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[ree-tey-ling] /ˈri teɪ lɪŋ/
the business of selling goods directly to consumers (distinguished from wholesaling).
Origin of retailing
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English; see retail, -ing1


[ree-teyl for 1–4, 6; ri-teyl for 5] /ˈri teɪl for 1–4, 6; rɪˈteɪl for 5/
the sale of goods to ultimate consumers, usually in small quantities (opposed to wholesale).
pertaining to, connected with, or engaged in sale at retail:
the retail price.
in a retail quantity or at a retail price.
verb (used with object)
to sell at retail; sell directly to the consumer.
to relate or repeat in detail to others:
to retail scandal.
verb (used without object)
to be sold at retail:
It retails at 50 cents.
1375-1425; (noun) late Middle English < Anglo-French: a cutting, derivative of retailler to cut, equivalent to re- re- + tailler to cut (see tail2); (v.) Middle English retailen < Old French retailler
Related forms
retailer, noun
nonretail, adjective
nonretailer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for retailing
  • It has limited the spread of big-box retailing and works to retain locally owned retail, such as village stores.
  • But the range of retailing ideas in any given town was rarely that great.
  • Little more than a decade ago, neon was considered a visual vagrant, synonymous with tacky retailing and seamy night life.
  • It was going to take over the media, travel, and auto-retailing businesses.
  • Except in big cities near the coast, conventional retailing is fragmented and underdeveloped.
  • Self-service is on the rise in industries from retailing and entertainment to travel and telecommunications.
  • The property market's distortions feed through to other sectors, such as retailing.
  • The car-dealership industry, where online-only retailing was prohibited by law, did not lose jobs.
  • It is in retailing clones that the big money is likely to be made.
  • The past few weeks have seen conditions in retailing worsen alarmingly, however.
British Dictionary definitions for retailing


the sale of goods individually or in small quantities to consumers Compare wholesale (sense 1)
of, relating to, or engaged in such selling: retail prices
in small amounts or at a retail price
to sell or be sold in small quantities to consumers
(transitive) (rɪˈteɪl). to relate (gossip, scandal, etc) in detail, esp persistently
Derived Forms
retailer, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French retaillier to cut off, from re- + taillier to cut; see tailor
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for retailing

mid-14c., verbal noun from retail (v.).



mid-14c. "sell in small quantities or parcels," from Old French retaillier "cut back, cut off, pare, clip, reduce, circumcise," from re- "back" (see re-) + taillier "to cut, trim" (see tailor (n.)). Sometimes also "to deal out (information, etc.) in small quantities; hand down by report; recount, tell over again" (1590s). Related: Retailed; retailing.


early 15c., "sale of commodities in small quantities or parcels or at second hand" (opposed to wholesale), from Old French retail "piece cut off, shred, scrap, paring" (Modern French retaille), from retaillier (see retail (v.)). The notion of the English word is "a selling by the piece." This sense is not in French, however, and comes perhaps from cognate Italian ritaglio, which does have that sense. As an adjective, "of or pertaining to sale at retail," c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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retailing in Culture

retail definition

A term describing businesses that sell goods directly to individuals. (Compare wholesale.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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