Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

colporteur

play
noun col·por·teur \ˈkäl-ˌpȯr-tər, ˌkäl-pȯr-ˈtər\

Definition of colporteur

  1. :  a peddler of religious books



Did You Know?

In 19th-century America, the word colporteur (a French borrowing meaning "peddler") came to be used especially of door-to-door peddlers of religious books and tracts, and it has carried that specific sense into the 21st century. The word traces to the Latin prefix com- ("together") plus the verb "portare" ("to carry"), two elements that were brought together to create "comportare" ("to bring together"). Middle French speakers tucked that word into their linguistic pack as "comporter" ("to carry" or "to peddle"), giving rise to "comporteur." Over time, perhaps influenced by the phrase "porter à col" ("to carry on one's back or neck"), the term's spelling shifted to the form now used.

Origin of colporteur

French, alteration of Middle French comporteur, from comporter to bear, peddle


First Known Use: 1796


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up colporteur? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

marked by propriety and good taste

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image567572573

Which of these is a synonym of unctuous?

angry maudlin prompt oily
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ