mer·​can·​tile | \ ˈmər-kən-ˌtēl How to pronounce mercantile (audio) , -ˌtī(-ə)l \

Definition of mercantile

1 : of or relating to merchants or trading mercantile families mercantile businesses
2 : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of mercantilism mercantile system

Examples of mercantile in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This is how the boys talk—with the same energy as fans, but with a mercantile mind-set and the language of sneakerheads. Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic, "On Discord With the Boys Scalping Harry Styles Tickets," 26 Nov. 2019 The signing took place just a few miles from the port of Piraeus, which abuts the Greek capital and is the major symbol of China’s mercantile ambitions in the West. Christopher R. O'dea, National Review, "Mike Pompeo’s View of China," 7 Nov. 2019 Contemporary scholars are not the first to notice that key financial technologies were developed in the course of colonial expropriation during the brutal passage from mercantile to industrial capitalism. Will Meyer, Longreads, "Fire Sale: Finance and Fascism in the Amazon Rainforest," 4 Oct. 2019 The puritanical persecution of witches — Salem’s claim to fame — are a slim iota of wrongdoing next to the global pillaging of the Western mercantile class throughout America’s early years., "At expanded Peabody Essex Museum, a new director strives to put people over things - The Boston Globe," 27 Sep. 2019 The 1906-era mercantile building was transported by barge from the seaside village of Oyster in 2015, and now overlooks the Cape Charles Yacht Center. Erica Jackson Curran,, "On the Eastern Shore, Virginia’s Cape Charles is in the midst of a small-town renaissance," 20 Aug. 2019 In Ancient Rome, suicide was permitted as an alternative to dishonor, but not for slaves and soldiers, the former because of the mercantile nature of their existence and the latter as a mark of patriotism. Simon Harold Walker, Time, "If We Want to Address the Crisis of Veteran Suicide, We Must Acknowledge Its History," 6 Sep. 2019 The hourglass, for example, is a relic from maritime, clerical, and mercantile life that was mostly replaced more than 500 years ago by the mechanical clock. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "I Tried to Limit My Screen Time," 5 Sep. 2019 Europe, Japan, Canada and other countries have similar complaints about China’s mercantile practices. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Trump’s China Trade Truce," 2 Dec. 2018

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

1638, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for mercantile

French, from Italian, from mercante merchant, from Latin mercant-, mercans, from present participle of mercari to trade — more at market

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Time Traveler for mercantile

Time Traveler

The first known use of mercantile was in 1638

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Statistics for mercantile

Last Updated

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Mercantile.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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How to pronounce mercantile (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mercantile

formal : of or relating to the business of buying and selling products to earn money : of or relating to trade or merchants


mer·​can·​tile | \ ˈmər-kən-ˌtēl How to pronounce mercantile (audio) , -ˌtīl \

Kids Definition of mercantile

: of or relating to merchants or trade a rich mercantile family

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More from Merriam-Webster on mercantile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mercantile

Spanish Central: Translation of mercantile

Nglish: Translation of mercantile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mercantile for Arabic Speakers

Comments on mercantile

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


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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