Definition of sutler
: a civilian provisioner to an army post often with a shop on the post
sutler was our Word of the Day on 10/03/2007. Hear the podcast!
Did You Know?
For I shall sutler be / Unto the camp, and profits will accrue, Pistol declares in Shakespeare's Henry V. In 1599, the year the play was first performed, "sutler" was quite new to English. It was adapted from the Dutch word soeteler, which meant about the same thing as our modern term. Even then, sutlers weren't usually the most popular fellows in a military camp, as a further look at the word's history reveals. The Dutch adopted "soeteler" from a Low German word meaning "sloppy worker," which itself traces to an even older verb that meant "to do sloppy work" or "to dirty." Perhaps the snide designation was inspired by the fact that the traditional sutler followed troops and sold them supplies at hugely inflated prices.
Origin and Etymology of sutler
obsolete Dutch soeteler, from Low German suteler sloppy worker, camp cook
First Known Use: 1599
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