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[kuh n-soo-mer] /kənˈsu mər/
a person or thing that consumes.
Economics. a person or organization that uses a commodity or service.
Ecology. an organism, usually an animal, that feeds on plants or other animals.
Origin of consumer
1375-1425 for earlier sense “squanderer,” 1525-35 for current senses; Middle English; see consume, -er1
Related forms
consumership, noun
anticonsumer, noun, adjective
nonconsumer, adjective, noun
preconsumer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for consumer
  • They argue that new network services and consumer access to vital information could be stifled by added fees.
  • Even as consumer spending increases modestly, those dollars are buying fewer goods and services.
  • We must work faster to change consumer behavior and develop alternative sources of power.
  • We throw away good food because it is not in exceptable appearance to the consumer eyes.
  • Poverty rates are dropping, consumer demand is rising and infrastructure development is on a tear.
  • Many farmers, responding to consumer demand, are delving into the tomato's preindustrial past to find the flavors of yesteryear.
  • Second, because colleges act as if they have no influence over the consumer preferences of students.
  • It also would establish a new agency to oversee consumer lending.
  • Though for-profit colleges have welcomed the changes, some student and consumer groups say the rule has lost its teeth.
  • That's still an impressive return, compared with other forms of consumer debt and other federal loans.
British Dictionary definitions for consumer


a person who acquires goods and services for his or her own personal needs Compare producer (sense 6)
a person or thing that consumes
(usually pl) (ecology) an organism, esp an animal, within a community that feeds upon plants or other animals See also decomposer, producer (sense 8)
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 consumer

early 15c., "one who squanders or wastes," agent noun from consume. In economic sense, "one who uses up goods or articles" (opposite of producer) from 1745. Consumer goods is attested from 1890. In U.S., consumer price index calculated since 1919, tracking "changes in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative basket of goods and services" [Bureau of Labor Statistics]; abbreviation CPI is attested by 1971.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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consumer in Science
A heterotrophic organism that feeds on other organisms in a food chain. ◇ Herbivores that feed on green plants and detritivores that feed on decaying matter are called primary consumers. Carnivores that feed on herbivores or detritivores are called secondary consumers, while those that feed on other carnivores are called tertiary consumers. Compare producer.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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consumer in Culture

consumer definition

Someone who purchases a good for personal use.

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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