apoth·​e·​cary | \ ə-ˈpä-thə-ˌker-ē How to pronounce apothecary (audio) , -ˌke-rē\
plural apothecaries

Definition of apothecary

1 : one who prepares and sells drugs or compounds for medicinal purposes
2 : pharmacy

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Synonyms for apothecary


chemist [British], druggist, pharmacist

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Apothecaries, Bodegas, and Boutiques

Apothecary, bodega, and boutique may not look very similar, but they are all related both in meaning and in origin. Each of these words can be traced back to a Latin word for “storehouse” (apotheca), and each one refers in English to a retail establishment of some sort. Although bodega initially meant “a storehouse for wine,” it now most commonly refers to a grocery store in an urban area, especially one that specializes in Hispanic groceries. Boutique has also taken on new meanings: its first sense in English (“a small retail store”) is still current, but it now may also denote “a small company that offers highly specialized products or services.” Of the three words, apothecary has changed the least; it has gone from referring solely to the person who sells drugs or medicines to also naming the store where such goods are sold.

Examples of apothecary in a Sentence

in olden days the apothecary had few drugs that actually cured anything, most substances being little more than pain relievers the historic village boasts an old-fashioned apothecary that's been there for almost a century and a half

Recent Examples on the Web

Indulge in a facial, massage, or illuminating peel, then peruse the bounty of natural and organic salves and serums in the apothecary. Taylore Glynn, Marie Claire, "Your Beauty Guide to Albuquerque," 3 May 2019 Take Alfyn, the apothecary, who can use his skills to heal allies and poison enemies. Steven Strom, Ars Technica, "In Octopath Traveler, jobs define more than just gameplay mechanics," 22 Aug. 2018 Enter under a multi-limbed Banyan tree, where a grand apothecary is stacked with local botanicals for health, beauty, and culinary use. David Jefferys, Condé Nast Traveler, "Puerto Rico's Dorado Beach Is a Bit of Bali, Three Hours from Home," 12 Nov. 2018 Anima Mundi Herbals manufactures locally, with an apothecary and adjacent factory in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn. New York Times, "What Are Adaptogens?," 1 June 2018 Wildwood’s shiny copper equipment is visible from the tasting room, which is designed to look like a vintage English apothecary. Providence Cicero, The Seattle Times, "Backed by his boss, John Howie, sommelier/master distiller Erik Liedholm pours his heart and talent into award-winning liquors," 20 June 2018 But according to the state, the medical cannabis shops CANNOT call themselves dispensaries, pharmacies, drugstores or apothecaries. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan: It's not a pot shop, it's a marijuana 'provisioning center'," 12 June 2018 Soon apprenticed as an apothecary, Arnold eventually set up his own general-goods shop in New Haven and, with an eye to the main chance, began making merchant voyages to Canada and the West Indies. William Anthony Hay, WSJ, "‘The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold’ and ‘Turncoat’ Review: His Own Worst Enemy," 24 May 2018 CH Projects’ other San Diego concepts include Ironside Fish & Oyster, El Dorado cocktail lounge, Underbelly asian fusion restaurant, Polite Provisions apothecary bar and the new Born and Raised steakhouse. Brady Macdonald, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Raised by Wolves brings hidden bar concept to suburban mall," 11 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apothecary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of apothecary

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for apothecary

Middle English apothecarie, from Medieval Latin apothecarius, from Late Latin, shopkeeper, from Latin apotheca storehouse, from Greek apothēkē, from apotithenai to put away, from apo- + tithenai to put — more at do

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Statistics for apothecary

Last Updated

13 May 2019

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Time Traveler for apothecary

The first known use of apothecary was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for apothecary



English Language Learners Definition of apothecary

: a person who prepared and sold medicines in past times


apoth·​e·​cary | \ ə-ˈpä-thə-ˌker-ē How to pronounce apothecary (audio) \
plural apothecaries

Kids Definition of apothecary


apoth·​e·​cary | \ ə-ˈpäth-ə-ˌker-ē How to pronounce apothecary (audio) \
plural apothecaries

Medical Definition of apothecary

1 : a person who prepares and sells drugs or compounds for medicinal purposes : druggist, pharmacist

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Comments on apothecary

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


to mark by some ceremony or observation

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