noun com·merce \ ˈkä-(ˌ)mərs \
|Updated on: 10 Jun 2018

Definition of commerce

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

Examples of commerce in a Sentence

  1. He was the Secretary of Commerce under the last President.

  2. a government agency in charge of regulating interstate commerce

Recent Examples of commerce from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of commerce

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

Synonym Discussion of 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.



verb com·merce \ ˈkä-(ˌ)mərs , kə-ˈmərs \

Definition of commerce

commerced; commercing

Origin and Etymology of 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.

COMMERCE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of commerce for English Language Learners

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

COMMERCE Defined for Kids


noun com·merce \ ˈkä-mərs , -ˌmərs \

Definition of commerce for Students

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

Law Dictionary


noun com·merce

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 2 — see also commerce clause, Fair Labor Standards Act
2 : the act of engaging in sexual intercourse

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the quality or state of being insatiable

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