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Alternative forms[edit]


1904, wire +‎ house (company), from earlier private-wire house (1894). Originally referred to brokerage companies that owned or leased telegraph lines, so that market information could be transmitted more quickly. Later generalized to “major brokerage”. Wirehouses are now defined by that they have a direct access to "Fed-Fund Wires", which is the system in which all banks and only the big brokerage houses can "wire" money directly from one account to another. Smaller brokerage firms do not have their own wire line, but need to send transactions by transmitting them through a bank's wire system.


wirehouse (plural wirehouses)

  1. (Canada, US, finance) A major brokerage company, generally nationwide, with multiple branches.
  2. (Canada, US, finance, obsolete) A brokerage company with a telegraph line, telephone line, or electronic communication network.
    • 1904, N.Y. Evening Post 18 June, 1904 (Financial Section) 1/7
      The so-called ‘wire house’ …is a product of the boom times.
    • 1905, The World’s work, Volume 9, Doubleday, Page & Co.:
      The “market information” is more diversified than formerly, and in many ways the “wire house” can fill a place that the old-style …

Usage notes[edit]

In contemporary use generally used narrowly, referring specifically to the Big 4 retail brokerage firms operating in the US: Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Morgan Stanley, UBS, and Wells Fargo & Co. In looser usage, applied to any large brokerage.


See also[edit]