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Reconstruction of a 19th century apothecary.

Alternative forms[edit]


From Old French apotecaire, from Medieval Latin apothecarius (storekeeper), from apotheca (shop, store), earlier Latin apotheca (repository, storehouse, warehouse), from Ancient Greek ἀποθήκη (apothḗkē, a repository, storehouse), from ἀπό (apó, away) + τίθημι (títhēmi, to put) literally "a place where things are put away". Doublet of boutique and bodega.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /əˈpɒθəkəɹi/
  • (US) IPA(key): /əˈpɑθəˌkɛəɹi/
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apothecary (plural apothecaries)

  1. (archaic in US, dated in UK) Synonym of pharmacist: a person who sells medicine, especially (historical) one who made and sold their own medicines in the medieval or early modern eras.
    • c. 1591–1595 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Romeo and Ivliet”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene iii], page 75, column 2:
      O true Appothecarie! / Thy drugs are quicke. Thus with a kiſſe I die.
    • 1838 (date written), L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter V, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. [], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, [], published 1842, →OCLC, page 62:
      The girls, though their illness was long and dangerous, recovered under Mrs. Palmer's care, who watched over them as if they had been her own; and from that time an affection, as valuable as it was pleasant, sprang up between them. When Lady Anne returned, she called, and talked about every thing but the apothecary's bill.
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, translated by H.L. Brækstad, Folk and Fairy Tales, page 2:
      It amused me to see the bustle and the life in the apothecary's shop across the street.
  2. (archaic or historical) Synonym of pharmacy: an apothecary's shop, a drugstore.
    • 1919, S.A., “Pharmacy in Russia”, in Soviet Russia, volume 1, number 27, page 6:
      The Russian people as a whole almost revered the apothecary, and they entered it as they would enter a sanctum.
    • 1998, Karen Holliday Tanner, Doc Holliday: A Family Portrait, University of Oklahoma Press, published 2001, →ISBN, pages 205–206:
      He was befriended by a local druggist, Jay Miller, who worked at the apothecary at the corner of Sixth and Harrison Street.
    • 2001, Audrey Horning, “Archeology and the Science of Discovery”, in Barbara Heath et al., Jamestown Archeological Assessment, U.S. National Parks Service, page 31:
      Seeds found in a 1630s refuse-filled clay borrow pit, located near an apothecary, illustrate colonists[sic – meaning colonists’] intense interest in experimenting with the medicinal qualities of New World plants.
  3. (uncommon) A glass jar of the sort once used for storing medicine.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


  • Tamil: அப்போதிக்கரி (appōtikkari)


Further reading[edit]