mer·chant | \ ˈmər-chənt \

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)

intransitive verb

archaic : to deal or trade as a merchant

transitive verb

: to deal or trade in

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Examples of merchant in a Sentence


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

The play opens with the three brothers, sons of a Jewish cattle merchant from Bavaria, arriving one at a time in America: first Henry (Beale), then Emanuel (Miles) and Mayer (Godley), setting up shop in Montgomery, Alabama. Demetrios Matheou, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Lehman Trilogy': Theater Review," 13 July 2018 The merchants will be a mix of food vendors, clothing stores and service providers, said Deborah Kravitz, president of PRI, who is handling leasing with those retailers. Roland Li,, "Philz Coffee, gym could open in new SF transit center," 9 July 2018 The merchants will soon be able to pass out bags of their choice. Allie Morris, San Antonio Express-News, "Texas Supreme Court strikes down city plastic bag bans," 22 June 2018 That's something merchants have been doing for years and years, said Roger Beahm, an executive director of the Wake Forest School of Business Center for Retail Innovation. Katherine Peralta, charlotteobserver, "From sweet tea to sunglasses: How Charlotte companies capitalize on made-up holidays," 21 June 2018 Every merchant at Findlay Market is an expert on their own products and how to use them. Polly Campbell,, "Get to know Findlay Market merchants at Findlay Eats this summer," 13 June 2018 Hosack was born on Manhattan Island in 1769, the son of a Scottish merchant. Penelope Rowlands, WSJ, "‘American Eden’ Review: The Ambitious Dr. Hosack," 1 June 2018 Charley Ross In 1874, Charley Ross was the fetching 4-year-old son of a Philadelphia dry-goods merchant., "PEOPLE Explains: Infamous Kidnappings Throughout History," 23 May 2018 One hears that some bikes are operated and parked with the care of a runaway toddler, impeding (and endangering) pedestrians while frustrating merchants for whom free-flowing sidewalks are lifelines. Logan Jenkins,, "Great bike bloom is a performance art form," 5 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

So basically merchant refineries should not be the ones that have to purchase these credits or blend the ethanol. Jacob Weisberg, Slate Magazine, "The Obscure EPA Rule That Brought Down a Trump Adviser," 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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Phrases Related to merchant

doom merchant

merchant seaman

speed merchant

Statistics for merchant

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for merchant

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

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More Definitions for merchant



English Language Learners Definition of merchant

: 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.


mer·chant | \ ˈmər-chənt \

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 \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on merchant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for merchant

Spanish Central: Translation of merchant

Nglish: Translation of merchant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of merchant for Arabic Speakers

Comments on merchant

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


the setting in which something occurs

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