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A costermonger with his handcart, London, early 20th century

Alternative forms[edit]


costard +‎ monger.


costermonger (plural costermongers)

  1. (Britain) A trader who sells fruit and vegetables from a cart or barrow in the street.
    • c. 1597, William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2, Act I, Scene 2,[1]
      Virtue is of little regard in these costermongers’ times that true valour turn’d berod []
    • 1808 January 18, “Sporting Intelligence”, in The Sporting Magazine, or Monthly Calendar, of the Transactions of the Turf, the Chase, and Every Other Diversion Interesting to the Man of Pleasure, Enterprize, & Spirit, volume XXXI, number 184, London: Printed for J. Wheble, 18, Warwick Square, OCLC 264072280, page 208:
      The Saint Monday Gemmen held their diversions on the 18th, near Clay-hill, which consisted of a pugilistic exhibition between G. Wilkie, a coster-monger, and Jeffery Smith, a professor, but little calculated to astonish the spectators at his professional skill. The battle was for ten guineas; and, after a contest of about forty minutes, in which the combatants were decently feaked, and the head of Jeffery was a good deal disfigured, he resigned the contest, and the coster-monger was carried to Westminster in triumph, []
    • 1850, Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, Chapter 23,[2]
      We arrived at Lincoln’s Inn Fields without any new adventures, except encountering an unlucky donkey in a costermonger’s cart, who suggested painful associations to my aunt.
    • 1889, Oscar Wilde, “The Portrait of Mr. W. H.” Chapter 1, in Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories,[3]
      He was an extraordinary old aristocrat, who swore like a costermonger, and had the manners of a farmer.
    • 1900, Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim:
      He had loved too well to imagine himself a glorious racehorse, and now he was condemned to toil without honour like a costermonger's donkey.
    • 1913, Ford Madox Ford, Mr. Fleight, London: Howard Latimer, Chapter 7, p. 93,[4]
      The twilight was still in the dusky skies; the walking took her nearly always over pieces of wrapping paper and banana peels, and the sawdust and detritus that fell from the costermongers’ stalls, lining all the roadways.


See also[edit]