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[mur-chuh nt] /ˈmɜr tʃənt/
a person who buys and sells commodities for profit; dealer; trader.
a storekeeper; retailer:
a local merchant who owns a store on Main Street.
Chiefly British. a wholesaler.
pertaining to or used for trade or commerce:
a merchant ship.
pertaining to the merchant marine.
Steelmaking. (of bars and ingots) of standard shape or size.
1250-1300; Middle English marchant < Old French marcheant < Vulgar Latin *mercātant- (stem of *mercātāns), present participle of *mercātāre, frequentative of Latin mercārī to trade, derivative of merx goods
Related forms
merchantlike, adjective
outmerchant, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for merchant
  • Fruit and vegetables are too heavy, he reasoned, and a clothes merchant needs two arms to measure and fold goods.
  • First, he said, the site and its merchant partners would compete aggressively on price.
  • The curriculum includes licensing programs for future merchant marine, coast guard and naval reserve officers.
  • When pirates realize that any merchant ship could be a disguised hunter-killer, only the insane will continue and will perish.
  • The other two-thirds he expects will come from the merchant hydrogen sector.
  • Four nuclear-powered merchant ships were eventually built.
  • Any merchant of course would be happy to get extra cash from customers who are less sensitive to price.
  • The salt merchant pulled a blanket around his shoulders and drew deeply on his cigarette.
  • The merchant only pays for the customers that come in the door.
  • For now, merchant shipping's best friend may be the weather.
British Dictionary definitions for merchant


a person engaged in the purchase and sale of commodities for profit, esp on international markets; trader
(mainly US & Canadian) a person engaged in retail trade
(esp in historical contexts) any trader
(derogatory) a person dealing or involved in something undesirable: a gossip merchant
  1. of the merchant navy: a merchant sailor
  2. of or concerned with trade: a merchant ship
(transitive) to conduct trade in; deal in
Derived Forms
merchant-like, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French, probably from Vulgar Latin mercātāre (unattested), from Latin mercārī to trade, from merx goods, wares


Ismail (ˈɪzmeɪəl). 1936–2005, Indian film producer, noted for his collaboration with James Ivory on such films as Shakespeare Wallah (1965), The Europeans (1979), A Room with a View (1986), The Remains of the Day (1993), and The Golden Bowl (2000)
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 merchant

c.1200, from Anglo-French marchaunt "merchant, shopkeeper" (Old French marcheant, Modern French marchand), from Vulgar Latin *mercatantem (nominative *mercatans) "a buyer," present participle of *mercatare, frequentative of Latin mercari "to trade, traffic, deal in" (see market). Meaning "fellow, chap" is from 1540s; with a specific qualifier, and suggesting someone who deals in it (e.g. speed merchant "one who enjoys fast driving"), from 1914.


c.1400, from merchant (n.) and from Old French marcheant (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for merchant


combining word

A person who esp indulges or purveys in what is indicated: heat merchant/ speed merchant (1914+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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merchant in the Bible

The Hebrew word so rendered is from a root meaning "to travel about," "to migrate," and hence "a traveller." In the East, in ancient times, merchants travelled about with their merchandise from place to place (Gen. 37:25; Job 6:18), and carried on their trade mainly by bartering (Gen. 37:28; 39:1). After the Hebrews became settled in Palestine they began to engage in commercial pursuits, which gradually expanded (49:13; Deut. 33:18; Judg. 5:17), till in the time of Solomon they are found in the chief marts of the world (1 Kings 9:26; 10:11, 26, 28; 22:48; 2 Chr. 1:16; 9:10, 21). After Solomon's time their trade with foreign nations began to decline. After the Exile it again expanded into wider foreign relations, because now the Jews were scattered in many lands.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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