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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.



merchant ‎(plural merchants)

  1. A person who traffics in commodities for profit.
  2. The owner or operator of a retail business.
  3. A trading vessel; a merchantman.
    • 1611, William Shakespeare, The Tempest, II. i. 5:
      Every day, some sailor's wife, / The masters of some merchant, and the merchant, / Have just our theme of woe.

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Related terms[edit]


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merchant ‎(third-person singular simple present merchants, present participle merchanting, simple past and past participle merchanted)

  1. As a resident of a region, to buy goods from a non-resident and sell them to another non-resident.
    a merchanting service

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