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com·​merce ˈkä-(ˌ)mərs How to pronounce commerce (audio)
: social intercourse : interchange of ideas, opinions, or sentiments
… a negotiated peace that will reestablish intellectual commerce among them … P. B. Rice
: the exchange or buying and selling of commodities on a large scale involving transportation from place to place
a major center of commerce
interstate commerce


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com·​merce ˈkä-(ˌ)mərs How to pronounce commerce (audio)
commerced; commercing
Choose the Right Synonym for commerce

business, commerce, trade, industry, traffic mean activity concerned with the supplying and distribution of commodities.

business may be an inclusive term but specifically designates the activities of those engaged in the purchase or sale of commodities or in related financial transactions.

commerce and trade imply the exchange and transportation of commodities.

industry applies to the producing of commodities, especially by manufacturing or processing, usually on a large scale.

traffic applies to the operation and functioning of public carriers of goods and persons.

Example Sentences

Noun He was the Secretary of Commerce under the last President. a government agency in charge of regulating interstate commerce
Recent Examples on the Web
The e-commerce giant plans to reduce its headcount by 10,000 jobs through 2023. Bypaolo Confino, Fortune, 21 Nov. 2022 Amazon confirmed that layoffs had begun at the company and would continue into next year, just days after multiple outlets reported the e-commerce giant planned to cut around 10,000 employees. Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 18 Nov. 2022 Although Amazon’s Prime Early Access sale took place earlier this month, shoppers can still enjoy deals on holiday gifts, electronics and more through the e-commerce giant’s early Black Friday deals, including on fashion. Danielle Directo-meston, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Nov. 2022 Amazon may provide layaway as other retailers eliminate the service is because of the e-commerce giant's storage capacity thanks to its network of warehouses, said David Sacco, practitioner in residence in University of New Haven's finance program. Amanda Pérez Pintado, USA TODAY, 17 Nov. 2022 China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba BABA 7.80% is going through a lean time. Jacky Wong, WSJ, 17 Nov. 2022 The settling of prepaid shares in e-commerce giant Alibaba alone brought in more than 4 trillion yen ($28 billion). Yuri Kageyama, ajc, 11 Nov. 2022 What started as an anti-Valentine’s day of sorts to celebrate singledom in 1993 was turned by Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma into the e-commerce giant’s flagship shopping festival in 2009. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 10 Nov. 2022 Based on technology developed at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and funded by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, QuEra last year announced one of the biggest quantum computers yet developed., 2 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Noun and Verb

Middle French, from Latin commercium, from com- + merc-, merx merchandise

First Known Use


1537, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1596, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of commerce was in 1537

Dictionary Entries Near commerce

Cite this Entry

“Commerce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



: buying and selling of goods especially on a large scale and between different places : trade

Legal Definition



: the exchange or buying and selling of goods, commodities, property, or services especially on a large scale and involving transportation from place to place : trade sense 2 see also commerce clause, Fair Labor Standards Act
: the act of engaging in sexual intercourse

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