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From Ancient Greek μόνος (mónos, alone, solitary; singular, unique) + ὀψωνέω (opsōnéō, to buy fish or victuals in general) + -y, modelled after monopoly. ὀψωνέω is from ὄψον (ópson, delicacies) + ὠνέομαι (ōnéomai, to buy, purchase). The English word was coined by British classics scholar Bertrand Hallward (1901–2003), and popularized by British economist Joan Robinson (1903–1983) in her book The Economics of Imperfect Competition (1933): see the quotation.



monopsony (plural monopsonies)

  1. (economics) A market situation in which there is only one buyer for a product; also, such a buyer. [from 1930s]
    • 1933, Joan Robinson, “Monopsony”, in The Economics of Imperfect Competition, London: Macmillan and Co., Limited [], OCLC 270400, section 2, page 219:
      Our next task is to consider the change in the amount of a commodity purchased when the market changes from an indefinitely large number of competing buyers to a single buying agency. This may be described as the comparison between competitive and monopsony buying, just as the corresponding comparison for selling was called the comparison between competitive and monopoly output.
  2. (economics) A buyer with disproportionate power.
    • 2014 March 15, “Turn it off: American regulators should block Comcast’s proposed deal with Time Warner Cable”, in The Economist[1], volume 410, number 8878, archived from the original on 14 March 2014:
      If the takeover is approved, Comcast would control 20 of the top 25 cable markets, []. Antitrust officials will need to consider Comcast’s status as a monopsony (a buyer with disproportionate power), when it comes to negotiations with programmers, whose channels it pays to carry.


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