mer·​chant | \ ˈmər-chənt How to pronounce merchant (audio) \

Definition of merchant

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a buyer and seller of commodities for profit : trader
2 : the operator of a retail business : storekeeper
3 : one that is noted for a particular quality or activity : specialist a speed merchant on the base paths



Definition of merchant (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : of, relating to, used in, or engaged in commerce The city's reputation, though, is as a merchant city in this nation historically known for its traders.— Peter Theroux
2 : of, relating to, or used in a merchant marine part of the merchant fleet One hundred years ago, a group of 11 senators blocked a bill that would have allowed U.S. merchant ships to arm themselves against German U-boats as World War I raged in Europe.— James Hohmann


merchanted; merchanting; merchants

Definition of merchant (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to deal or trade in

intransitive verb

archaic : to deal or trade as a merchant

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Examples of merchant in a Sentence

Noun Merchants traveled hundreds of miles to trade in the city. a family of wealthy merchants The town's merchants closed their shops during the parade. Prizes were given by local merchants.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun China’s thousands of civilian merchant ships, legally absorbed into naval service, would transport the balance of the invasion force. David Axe, Forbes, 10 Sep. 2021 Amara is a strategic town that lies on the way to the coastal town of Harardheere, an al-Shabab stronghold that was a pirate base at the height of hijackings of merchant ships in 2011. Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2021 The United States declares war against Germany after the interception and publication of the Zimmermann Telegram and the sinking of three US merchant ships by German U-boats. Cnn Editorial Research, CNN, 20 July 2021 During the 18th century, the cove would have been filled with merchant ships with their tall masts and billowing sails., 7 July 2021 Part of the escalation was last month’s fatal drone attack on the merchant vessel Mercer Street in the Gulf of Oman. Jonathan Spyer, WSJ, 16 Aug. 2021 On July 31, 1697, Jacques Sennacques sent a letter to his cousin—one Pierre Le Pers, a French merchant living in The Hague—begging him, for the love of Pete (that’s paraphrased), to send him a death certificate for his relative, Daniel Le Pers. Adam Rogers, Wired, 2 Mar. 2021 Once the fees are in place, the money will be split between the merchant (4 cents) and the city (1 cent). Pamela Wood,, 13 Aug. 2021 One was Hossein, 57, an English professor who, like Mohammad, the merchant, did not want his family name published. Amir Vahdat, USA TODAY, 5 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective OPay currently processes about 80% of bank transfers among mobile money operators in Nigeria and 20% of non-merchant point of sales transactions, Akpan said. Tope Alake,, 23 Dec. 2020 So basically merchant refineries should not be the ones that have to purchase these credits or blend the ethanol. Jacob Weisberg, Slate Magazine, 23 Aug. 2017

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


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for merchant


Middle English marchant, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *mercatant-, mercatans, from present participle of mercatare to trade, frequentative of Latin mercari — more at market

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Time Traveler for merchant

Time Traveler

The first known use of merchant was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries Near merchant




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Last Updated

14 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Merchant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for merchant



English Language Learners Definition of merchant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: someone who buys and sells goods especially in large amounts
: the owner or manager of a store
: someone who is known for a particular quality, activity, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of merchant (Entry 2 of 2)

: used for or involved in trading goods


mer·​chant | \ ˈmər-chənt How to pronounce merchant (audio) \

Kids Definition of merchant

1 : a person who buys and sells goods especially on a large scale or with foreign countries


mer·​chant | \ ˈmər-chənt How to pronounce merchant (audio) \

Legal Definition of merchant

: a person who trades in goods especially of a certain kind and possesses expertise in the area of the goods and the practices of trading in them or who employs others with such expertise a warranty that the goods shall be merchantable is implied in a contract for their sale if the seller is a merchant with respect to goods of that kindUniform Commercial Code

More from Merriam-Webster on merchant

Nglish: Translation of merchant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of merchant for Arabic Speakers


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