One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A person who buys commodities (especially food) in order to sell them on at a profit; a retailer.
2Chiefly English regional (south-western). A person who collects commodities from the producers and brings them to market; an intermediary.
Late Middle English; earliest use found in William Langland (c1325–c1390), poet. Partly from Anglo-Norman regrater male retailer (1219 or earlier, frequent as occupational surname: see below; compare Anglo-Norman and Middle French regratier; probably from regrater (although this is first attested later) + -er), and partly from Anglo-Norman regratere (feminine noun) female retailer (1301 or earlier: see below; compare Middle French (rare) regratiere), feminine form corresponding to regrater. Compare post-classical Latin regratarius, and perhaps also the nouns in other Romance languages cited at regrate, although it is unclear whether there is any etymological connection between them and the French and post-classical Latin nouns.
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