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late 14c., from Anglo-French brocour "small trader," from abrokur "retailer of wine, tapster;" perhaps from Portuguese alborcar "barter," but more likely from Old French brocheor, from brochier "to broach, tap, pierce (a keg)," from broche "pointed tool" (see broach (n.)), giving original sense of "wine dealer," hence "retailer, middleman, agent." In Middle English, used contemptuously of peddlers and pimps.
1630s (implied in brokering), from broker (n.). Related: Brokered.
past tense and obsolete past participle of break (v.); extension to "insolvent" is first recorded 1716 (broken in this sense is attested from 1590s). Old English cognate broc meant, in addition to "that which breaks," "affliction, misery."
A financial agent or intermediary; a middleman.