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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 consumers
  • consumers have thousands of choices, and all the price tags vary.
  • It is claimed that consumers are being manipulated by big corporations and their brands.
  • Students will check their maps later by surveying the travel behavior of other consumers.
  • Of course, willing consumers were essential to his success.
  • E-loan has been allowing consumers to check their credit ratings online for free.
  • The economic downturn and high rates of unemployment have forced consumers to spend less, and advertisers have taken notice.
  • consumers are highly vulnerable to a sudden break in energy supplies.
  • consumers have a financial incentive here as well, as municipal water is far cheaper than bottled water.
  • All of this gives consumers more power of choice when it comes to providers.
  • Higher-education professionals buy more books than any other group of consumers.
British Dictionary definitions for consumers


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 consumers



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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consumers 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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consumers 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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