from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One that sells foodstuffs and various household supplies.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person who sells groceries (foodstuffs and household items) retail from a grocery

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A trader who deals in meats, dairy products, produce, tea, sugar, spices, coffee, fruits, and various other commodities.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A wholesale dealer: same as engrosser
  • n. A trader who deals in general supplies for the table and for household use. See grocery, 3.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a retail merchant who sells foodstuffs (and some household supplies)


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, wholesaler, from Anglo-Norman grosser, from Medieval Latin grossārius, grocerius, from Late Latin grossus, thick.



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  • See usage/historical note on grossarii, which will kick you over to cubebs for more. You also may find notes located on apothecary and spicer and unguent to be interesting. 

    "There was also a change in the word 'grocer,' which had originated in English to mean a spice merchant (or spicer) who handled larger or wholesale quantities (thus dealing in 'gross' amounts), before later becoming extended to someone handling all manner of edible products. The same semantic transformation occurred in French, where 'epicier' went from meaning a spice merchant to the owner of a small food shop ('epicerie')."

    Paul Freedman, Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination (New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2008), 116.

    Later, same book:

    "Postmortem surveys of London grocers' shops from the reign of Richard II (1377-1399) show that besides spices and drugs they might sell soap, honey, alum, lamp oil, seeds, pitch, and tar. These merchants diversified and carried on both a distributive trade (importing spices to be sold to provincial merchants) and an export trade in wool, for many years England's major international commodity." (p. 120)

    January 8, 2017