com·merce | \ˈkä-(ˌ)mərs \

Definition of commerce 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : social intercourse : interchange of ideas, opinions, or sentiments … a negotiated peace that will reestablish intellectual commerce among them …— P. B. Rice

2 : the exchange or buying and selling of commodities on a large scale involving transportation from place to place a major center of commerce interstate commerce


com·merce | \ˈkä-(ˌ)mərs, kə-ˈmərs\
commerced; commercing

Definition of commerce (Entry 2 of 2)

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Synonyms & Antonyms for commerce

Synonyms: Noun

dealings, interaction, intercourse, relation

Antonyms: Noun


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Choose the Right Synonym for commerce


business, commerce, trade, industry, traffic mean activity concerned with the supplying and distribution of commodities. business may be an inclusive term but specifically designates the activities of those engaged in the purchase or sale of commodities or in related financial transactions. commerce and trade imply the exchange and transportation of commodities. industry applies to the producing of commodities, especially by manufacturing or processing, usually on a large scale. traffic applies to the operation and functioning of public carriers of goods and persons.

Examples of commerce in a Sentence


He was the Secretary of Commerce under the last President. a government agency in charge of regulating interstate commerce

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

His insistence that the Japanese trade with the United States hinged on a belief that international commerce was a marker of civilization. Time Staff, Time, "The 25 Moments From American History That Matter Right Now," 28 June 2018 Another problem for investors is that e-commerce is still hard to make profitable, so any growth in online sales at the expense of store sales will hit margins. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, "The Company Beating Amazon in Grocery Delivery," 22 June 2018 Much of the commerce was fruitful; some of it — a massive traffic in slavery — was morally indefensible. New York Times, "Swahili, the Pulse of Life at the Crossroads," 14 June 2018 Ross resigned from his position as vice chairman of the bank after he was confirmed as Trump's commerce secretary. Kara Scannell And Shimon Prokupecz, CNN, "Exclusive: Mueller's team questions Russian oligarch about payments to Cohen," 8 May 2018 Anyone who goes will find a cyber-sprawl of illicit marketplaces and pop-up sites where commerce is, by and large, via cryptocurrency. Liz Brody, Glamour, "How Cryptocurrency May Be Harmful to Women—on the Dark Web and Beyond," 7 May 2018 But Trump's commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, is dead serious about the United States developing a role for itself in the cosmos. Josh Rogin, star-telegram, "Will space be the next "big battleground"? | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 4 May 2018 Prime has become too ingrained into the fabric of consumer behavior; with Amazon capturing more than 50 percent of online sales growth, the company increasingly is e-commerce. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Inside Amazon Prime’s Price Hike," 2 May 2018 That dubious distinction is currently held by Henry Wallace, who served as commerce secretary from 1945 to 1946. Alex Ward, Vox, "Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo is endorsed by Senate committee in a strange way," 23 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'commerce.' 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 commerce


1537, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1596, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for commerce


Middle French, from Latin commercium, from com- + merc-, merx merchandise


see commerce entry 1

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Statistics for commerce

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for commerce

The first known use of commerce was in 1537

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More Definitions for commerce



Financial Definition of commerce

What It Is

Commerce is the exchange of goods, services or commodities on a large scale.

How It Works

Nearly every business transaction is a form of commerce: purchasing food at a restaurant, buying stocks on the stock market, selling goods in a store, drilling for oil, etc.

The financial industry often breaks down commerce into more specific categories. For example, international commerce takes place between countries, interstate commerce is done across state lines, and electric commerce (e-commerce) takes place via the Internet.

Why It Matters

Commerce is the fundamental action that takes place in every transaction involving money and/or trade. It is the basic component of the business and financial world.

In most countries, commerce is regulated; the extent of the regulation is a reflection of monetary policy, fiscal policy and political conditions. In the U.S., the Department of Commerce has a broad mandate to advance economic growth and job opportunities for Americans. It has a broad range of responsibilities, a very small sample of which includes gathering and releasing data on GDP, performing the decennial census, and running the Patent and Trademark Office.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of commerce

: activities that relate to the buying and selling of goods and services


com·merce | \ˈkä-mərs, -ˌmərs\

Kids Definition of commerce

: the buying and selling of goods especially on a large scale and between different places : trade

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Legal Definition of commerce 

1 : the exchange or buying and selling of goods, commodities, property, or services especially on a large scale and involving transportation from place to place : trade sense 2 — see also commerce clause, Fair Labor Standards Act

2 : the act of engaging in sexual intercourse

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Comments on commerce

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


not any or not one

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