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mer·​chant ˈmər-chənt How to pronounce merchant (audio)
: a buyer and seller of commodities for profit : trader
: the operator of a retail business : storekeeper
: one that is noted for a particular quality or activity : specialist
a speed merchant on the base paths


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: 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
: 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


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merchanted; merchanting; merchants

transitive verb

: to deal or trade in

intransitive verb

archaic : to deal or trade as a merchant

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
The explorers and merchant ships that followed were lured not by cod, but by the beaver pelts fishermen had obtained cheaply in trade from Native Americans. Richard Adams Carey, WSJ, 2 Dec. 2022 By noon the Portuguese Navy patrol ship Setúbal was on scene, flanked by four merchant ships that had come to help and found the Ace spewing great clouds of white smoke across the sea. Andrew Lawrence, Popular Mechanics, 14 Nov. 2022 Hassan Salley served in the Naval Armed Guard, which helped escort merchant ships making crossings of the Atlantic Ocean. Brian Amaral,, 11 Nov. 2022 When the flag was first created in 1606, it was ordered primarily to fly at sea, situated atop the main masthead of all English and Scottish ships, warships and merchant ships. Skyler Caruso, Peoplemag, 19 Sep. 2022 Pirates frequented the area throughout the 1700s, often using the small islands as a base and attacking merchant ships en route to and from the Gulf of Mexico. Emily Pennington, Outside Online, 5 Sep. 2022 To this end, Professor Miller and a small team of collaborators compiled hundreds of historic reports of milky sea events observed between 1796 and 2010, many of which are recorded in logs of merchant ships. Grrlscientist, Forbes, 11 July 2022 Two Russian bulk carriers, merchant ships designed to carry unpackaged bulk cargo such as grain, were spotted unloading grain at Syrian ports by U.S. satellite company Maxar Technologies, Reuters reported. Tristan Bove, Fortune, 17 June 2022 That’s when a loan from an online lender or merchant cash advance makes a lot of sense. Rohit Arora, Forbes, 1 Aug. 2022
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 See More

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.

Word History



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

First Known Use


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near merchant

Cite this Entry

“Merchant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
mer·​chant ˈmər-chənt How to pronounce merchant (audio)
: a buyer and seller of goods for profit
especially : one who carries on trade on a large scale or with foreign countries


2 of 2 adjective
: of, relating to, or used in trade
a merchant ship
: of or relating to a merchant marine

Legal Definition


mer·​chant ˈmər-chənt How to pronounce merchant (audio)
: 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 kind Uniform Commercial Code

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