Definition of merchant in English:


Line breaks: mer|chant
Pronunciation: /ˈməːtʃ(ə)nt


  • 1A person or company involved in wholesale trade, especially one dealing with foreign countries or supplying goods to a particular trade: a builders' merchant a tea merchant
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    • Some of the well-known family businesses include timber merchants and builders' providers the McMahon Group.
    • On the Chinese side, the Canton authorities limited trade with the foreign merchants to a group of Chinese merchant houses, the Hongs, nominally thirteen in number.
    • In the printing industry, for example, very large printers obtain their inks direct from manufacturers, while smaller printers tend to rely on wholesale merchants.
  • 1.1chiefly North American A retail trader: the credit cards are accepted by 10 million merchants worldwide
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    • All Pro projects that the products will bring in more than $8-million in retail sales to area merchants.
    • Inside the walls were the rest, the ones who fell into the middle, the lower merchants, traders, dealers, hawkers, along with business of all kinds crammed into the walls.
    • Most of these marketing efforts were directed toward retail merchants.
    trader, dealer, trafficker, wholesaler, broker, agent, seller, buyer, buyer and seller, salesman/saleswoman/salesperson, vendor, retailer, shopkeeper, tradesman, distributor, representative, commercial traveller, marketer, marketeer, pedlar, hawker; magnate, mogul, baron
  • 1.2A person who deals in something unpleasant: a merchant of death
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    • The corrupt politicians and immoral merchants must be dealt with sternly according to the full extent of the law in order to prove that this society is a place where honest citizens can be rewarded.
    • Having been through this whole process a bunch of times, I had no illusions that I was dealing with rip-off merchants.
    • It is not hard to explain the inability of the world establishment to deal more effectively with these merchants of death.
  • 1.3(In historical contexts) a person involved in trade or commerce: prosperous merchants and clothiers had established a middle class
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    • He also initiated trade between the Franks and the Muslims and made commercial pacts with the merchants of Venice who traded with both Byzantium and Islam.
    • In virtue of the abundant salt produced in Shanxi, the earliest Shanxi merchants arrived on the historical stage.
    • It was founded high on a series of hills by prosperous Saxon merchants in the Middle Ages.
  • 2 [usually with modifier] informal , • derogatory A person who has a liking for a particular activity: his driver was no speed merchant
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    • I have only heard what Jimmy told me, which was told to him by Lawrence, the Champion embellisher wind-up merchant - he spread it round the neighbourhood we were lost in the Maldives.
    • A rarity from the archives, this solo album was recorded for the Japanese market a quarter of a century ago, when he was almost as well known as the thinking person's funk merchant as a straightahead pianist.
    • I work in internet advertising (but not in sales, I have my pride) so sometimes the spam merchant techniques to grab people's attention will perk my interest.


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  • 1(In historical contexts) relating to merchants or commerce: the growth of the merchant classes
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    • At this stage in history, the merchant class, desperate for money to finance their adventures, struggled with the monopoly of the moneylenders and overcame it.
    • In the end, it will be commerce and the merchant class that will provide, and they will have to go it alone, without the help of superpowers.
    • Toward the left foreground are the small yellow houses of the common people; note the red roofs of the merchant class, clustered around the open bazaar.
  • 1.1(Of ships, sailors, or shipping activity) involved with commerce rather than military activity: a merchant seaman
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    • She gave protection to the merchant ships and sailors, and gave those ashore confidence that the vital supplies would always get through under her watchful eye.
    • The rest of his young adulthood became a quest for financial security, and he shipped out as a merchant sailor.
    • Built of English oak and Cornish elm, they are traditionally designed and locally built rowing boats originally used to deliver pilots to incoming merchant ships.


Middle English: from Old French marchant, based on Latin mercari 'to trade', from merx, merc- 'merchandise'.

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