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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for apothecary


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 To go with the Grey Hen's new look, modeled after a New Orleans-style apothecary, the cocktails will be served in brown glass medicine bottles and include ingredients historically thought to cure ailments. Tirion Morris, The Arizona Republic, "These award-winning Arizona bars now serve takeout cocktails. Here's what's on the menus," 11 July 2020 The right tiny glass bottles, which will make your bathroom look like a chic apothecary, can transform your face better than almost anything, short of a visit to the dermatologist. Jenny Singer, Glamour, "The Ordinary Peeling Solution Completely Transformed My Skin," 20 May 2020 Leave it to L’Officine Universelle Buly, the centuries-old Left Bank apothecary and requisite Paris Fashion Week destination, to dream up the most luxe lip balm yet, which comes housed in a monogrammed leather coffret made for display. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "11 Swoon-Worthy Beauty Gifts for the Friend Who Has Everything," 12 Dec. 2019 Even now, each candle is made in the same factory in Normandy, and stepping into one of the brand’s Paris stores feels more like entering a 17th-century apothecary shop than a 21st-century candle store. Lale Arikoglu, Condé Nast Traveler, "This Candle Will Make Your Apartment Smell Like Paris," 18 Mar. 2020 Less familiar is the pioneering work of the German apothecary and inventor Julius Neubronner. Richard B. Woodward, WSJ, "‘The Elevated Eye: Aerial Photography Past and Present’ Review: The View From Above," 27 Jan. 2020 According to an account given by the seventeenth-century apothecary and alchemist Pierre Pomet (offered up by Wothers as possibly apocryphal), antimony got its name from the story of a German monk who fed it to his fellow-brethren. Neima Jahromi, The New Yorker, "The Histories Hidden in the Periodic Table," 27 Dec. 2019 Chapman and two colleagues cut hair under a Holbein portrait of Henry VIII and his barber-surgeons and apothecaries. Jenny Anderson, Quartz, "A band of British barbers are trying to save men’s lives, one haircut at a time," 10 Oct. 2019 In an old-world apothecary, lavender is not a new thing. Steven Kurutz, New York Times, "Why Does Everything Smell, So Peacefully, of Lavender?," 14 Sep. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of apothecary

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for apothecary

Middle English apothecarie, apotecarie, pothecarie, borrowed from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French apothecaire, ipotecaire, borrowed from Medieval Latin apotēcārius, apothēcārius, going back to Late Latin, "shopkeeper," from Latin apothēca "storeroom, storehouse, repository" (borrowed from Greek apothḗkē, from apothē-, variant stem of apotithénai "to put away, stow away" —from apo- apo- + tithénai "to put, place"— + -kē, noun suffix) + -ārius -ary entry 1 — more at do entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about apothecary

Time Traveler for apothecary

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for apothecary

Cite this Entry

“Apothecary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apothecary. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for apothecary


How to pronounce apothecary (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!