bou·​tique bü-ˈtēk How to pronounce boutique (audio)
often attributive
: a small shop dealing in fashionable clothing or accessories
: a small shop within a large department store
: a small company that offers highly specialized services or products
boutique wineries
an independent investment boutique
boutiquey adjective

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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 boutique in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web With three new boutique hotels, a new Michelin-star restaurant, and younger, jet-setting residents, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, is poised to usher in travelers during its sunniest season—in the fall. Kristine Hansen, Vogue, 21 Sep. 2023 The Principal Madrid Hotel This intimate boutique hotel boasts just 76 rooms, but its rooftop terrace offers some of the best views in the city. Meena Thiruvengadam, Travel + Leisure, 21 Sep. 2023 Girl’s Night Lingerie Fashion Show Molly Hopkins — a lingerie boutique owner — came through with the latest bedroom wear for each of the ladies. Kelly Wynne, Peoplemag, 19 Sep. 2023 Whatever the motives, the result was that rents went up and a boutique hotel moved in. Ligaya Mishan David Chow, New York Times, 19 Sep. 2023 The palatial four-bedroom spread lies within a historic building in Östermalm, an affluent neighborhood known for its boutique shops, fine dining, and stunning architecture. Abby Montanez, Robb Report, 18 Sep. 2023 The party, co-hosted by Ginny Wright, the brand’s CEO of the Americas, was designed to highlight Audemars Piguet’s six-year-old retail concept, which favors doing business in luxurious, residential-style lounge spaces instead of traditional boutiques. Victoria Gomelsky, Robb Report, 15 Sep. 2023 His favorites include Erin Martin’s avant-garde atelier M, Dione Carston’s shop Trick Pony, and Elyse Walker’s clothing boutique. Kathryn Romeyn, Travel + Leisure, 15 Sep. 2023 The Lavia-Garcias’ boutique plant shop offers an assortment of succulents and other plants such as fiddle leaf, pathos, peperomia and calico kitten crassula sourced from local nurseries. Anna Braz, Los Angeles Times, 13 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'boutique.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French, shop, probably from Old Occitan botica, ultimately from Greek apothēkē storehouse — more at apothecary

First Known Use

1767, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of boutique was in 1767

Dictionary Entries Near boutique

Cite this Entry

“Boutique.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


bou·​tique bü-ˈtēk How to pronounce boutique (audio)
: a small fashionable store

from French boutique "shop"

Legal Definition


bou·​tique bü-ˈtēk How to pronounce boutique (audio)
: a small company that offers highly specialized services or products
specifically : a small law firm that offers services in one or a small number of legal areas

More from Merriam-Webster on boutique

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