sut·​ler ˈsət-lər How to pronounce sutler (audio)
: a civilian provisioner to an army post often with a shop on the post

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.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Facing mounting gambling debts, the younger Monroe sold Thompson to John Culbertson, a sutler who moved to Fort Snelling in 1827 to sell goods to soldiers and brought Thompson with him. Curt Brown, Star Tribune, 17 July 2021 The event brings re-enactors setting up military and civilian camps that include soldiers, sutlers, musicians and more. Phil Marty,, 25 Apr. 2018 Sutlers, the roving merchants of that time will sell period articles. Joan Rusek,, 15 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sutler.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


obsolete Dutch soeteler, from Low German suteler sloppy worker, camp cook

First Known Use

1599, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sutler was in 1599


Dictionary Entries Near sutler

Cite this Entry

“Sutler.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

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