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

  • n. One whose occupation is the wholesale purchase and retail sale of goods for profit.
  • n. One who runs a retail business; a shopkeeper.
  • adj. Of or relating to merchants, merchandise, or commercial trade: a merchant guild.
  • adj. Of or relating to the merchant marine: merchant ships.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person who traffics in commodities for profit.
  • n. The owner or operator of a retail business.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of, pertaining to, or employed in, trade or merchandise.
  • n. One who traffics on a large scale, especially with foreign countries; a trafficker; a trader.
  • n. A trading vessel; a merchantman.
  • n. One who keeps a store or shop for the sale of goods; a shopkeeper.
  • intransitive v. To be a merchant; to trade.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One who is engaged in the business of buying commercial commodities and selling them again for the sake of profit; especially, one who buys and sells in quantity or by wholesale.
  • n. A supercargo; the person in charge of the business affairs of a trading expedition.
  • n. A merchant ship or vessel; a merchantman.
  • n. A shop-keeper or store-keeper.
  • n. 5. A fellow; a chap.
  • Relating to trade or commerce; commercial: as, the law merchant. See law.
  • Pertaining to merchants; belonging to the mercantile class; engaged or used in trade or commerce.
  • To trade; buy or sell; deal; barter; traffic; negotiate.

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

  • n. a businessperson engaged in retail trade


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

Middle English merchaunt, from Old French marcheant, from Vulgar Latin *mercātāns, present participle of *mercātāre, frequentative of Latin mercārī, to trade, from merx, merc-, merchandise.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English marchant, from Anglo-Norman marchant, from Latin mercans ("a buyer"), present participle of mercor ("trade, traffic, buy"), from merx ("merchandise, traffic"), from merere ("to gain, buy, purchase, also deserve, merit"); see mercy and merit.



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  • "... the reliefs offer at the very least a clue as to why ... spices were so valued as to warrant a trade over such vast distances.* For a culture accustomed to thinking of trade in terms of profit, and of spices as mere seasonings, it is a reminder of how easily our assumptions glide into a past where they don't belong. The first identifiable impulse for maritime contact between Egypt and the world beyond, by any measure one of the defining moments in global history, appears to have come not from gourmets but from the gods."

    *Some scholars have long argued that not only this trade but all trade first existed in order to serve sacred purposes. When the word for 'merchant' first appeared in Mesopotamian texts of the second millennium B.C., it carried sacred associations, designating 'the official of a temple privileged to trade abroad.'"

    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 239, 239n, 240

    December 6, 2016