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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle French trafique, traffique (traffic), from Italian traffico (traffic) from trafficare (to carry on trade). Potentially from Vulgar Latin *trānsfrīcāre (to rub across); Klein instead suggests the Italian has ultimate origin in Arabic تَفْرِيق (tafrīq, distribution, dispersion), reshaped to match the native prefix tra- (trans-).

The adjective sense is possibly influenced by Tagalog trapik and follows a general trend in Philippine English to make nouns adjectives.[1]


  • enPR: trăf'ĭk, IPA(key): /ˈtɹæfɪk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æfɪk


traffic (usually uncountable, plural traffics)

  1. Moving pedestrians or vehicles, or the flux or passage thereof.
    The traffic is slow during rush hour.
    • c. 1591–1595 (date written), [William Shakespeare], “The Prologue”, in [] Romeo and Juliet. [] (First Quarto), London: [] Iohn Danter, published 1597, →OCLC:
      VVhoſe miſaduentures, piteous ouerthrovves, / (Through the continuing of their Fathers ſtrife, / And death-markt paſſage of their Parents rage) / Is novv the tvvo hovvres traffique of our Stage.
  2. Commercial transportation or exchange of goods, or the movement of passengers or people.
  3. Illegal trade or exchange of goods, often drugs.
    Synonym: (more common) trafficking
    • 2018 January 9, Alfred W. McCoy, “How the heroin trade explains the US-UK failure in Afghanistan”, in The Guardian[2], →ISSN:
      They, in turn, had long dominated the drug traffic in the area of north-east Afghanistan that they controlled during the Taliban years.
  4. Exchange or flux of information, messages or data, as in a computer or telephone network.
    • 1902, John Buchan, The Outgoing of the Tide:
      The parish stank of idolatry, abominable rites were practiced in secret, and in all the bounds there was no one had a more evil name for the black traffic than one Alison Sempill, who bode at the Skerburnfoot.
    • 2013 July 26, Charles Arthur, “Porn sites get more internet traffic in UK than social networks or shopping”, in The Guardian[3], →ISSN:
      Internet traffic to legal pornography sites in the UK comprised 8.5% of all "clicks" on web pages in June – exceeding those for shopping, news, business or social networks, according to new data obtained exclusively by the Guardian.
    1. (radio) In CB radio, formal written messages relayed on behalf of others.
    2. (advertising) The amount of attention paid to a particular printed page etc. in a publication.
      • 1950, Advertising & Selling (volume 43, part 2, page 53)
        Those fixed locations which are sold to advertisers become preferred according to the expected page traffic.
  5. Commodities of the market.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


traffic (third-person singular simple present traffics, present participle trafficking, simple past and past participle trafficked)

  1. (intransitive) To pass goods and commodities from one person to another for an equivalent in goods or money; to buy or sell goods.
    Synonym: trade
  2. (intransitive) To trade meanly or mercenarily; to bargain.
  3. (transitive) To exchange in traffic; to effect by a bargain or for a consideration.
    • 1912, The World's Wit and Humor, page 176:
      A Libyan longing took us, and we would have chosen, if we could, to bear a strand of grotesque beads, or a handful of brazen gauds, and traffic them for some sable maid with crisp locks, whom, uncoffling from the captive train beside the desert, we should make to do our general housework forever, through the right of lawful purchase.

Derived terms[edit]



traffic (comparative more traffic, superlative most traffic)

  1. (Philippines) congested


  1. ^ traffic, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021.