Definition of mercer in US English:



  • A dealer in textile fabrics, especially silks, velvets, and other fine materials.

    • ‘The homes in which paintings were found belonged to people engaged in a wide variety of occupations, from wealthy mercers and goldsmiths to single women of no specified vocation.’
    • ‘Elsewhere Thomas Spooner, mercer and draper, wanted York people to know he ‘has at present by him a quantity of fine old Jamaica Rum’.’
    • ‘Caxton was a trader in rich cloths, a mercer, and books were his passion.’
    • ‘Chapters on upholstery reveal his profound knowledge as the last in a long line of mercers - he once memorably lectured at the V & A with bolts of fabrics from Watts and Co. instead of slides.’
    • ‘The Bishop commissioned a mercer called Packington to buy up New Testaments directly from the Dutch.’
    • ‘The evidence has warranted the inclusion - along with men specifically designated merchants - of vintners, mercers, grocers, spicers, and taverners (but not, generally, brewers).’
    • ‘Drapers and milliners, haberdashers and tailors, mercers and glovers - these were the ubiquitous tradespeople and retailers of Federation King Street.’
    • ‘Lady Bennet was born Mary, the daughter of Robert Taylor, a mercer of London.’
    • ‘Although he is ‘in the mercer's books’ for money owed on satins and velvets and in hiding from his creditors, he nonetheless parades openly throughout the city modeling his newest ensemble.’
    • ‘Allders started life in 1862 when 24-year-old Joshua Allder set up a linen draper and silk mercer at 102 and 103 North End.’
    • ‘Bob describes him as a tall, dapper gentleman who called himself a mercer.’
    • ‘Despite his specialization as draper / mercer, this was the only occasion he is seen dealing in cloth.’
    • ‘She was the daughter of a Cheapside mercer and wife of a Lombard Street goldsmith, and exercised great influence over Edward IV by her beauty and wit.’
    • ‘Its streets were ‘handsome and broad, full of the shops of jewellers, goldsmiths, lapidaries, carpet weavers, silk mercers and other artisans.’’
    • ‘Born in the Weald of Kent, Caxton went to London at the age of 16 to apprentice to a mercer.’
    • ‘Others, like vintners, mercers, and drapers, dealt in goods brought into the town from more distant parts.’
    • ‘Tingey believed that, until 1449, only mercers had been permitted to hold the Norwich mayoralty; in fact a hosier was mayor in 1415 and a butcher in 1422.’
    • ‘Dick Whittington set out to see London, having heard that the streets were paved with gold, and upon his arrival he began training to be a mercer.’
    • ‘Thomas, only fourteen years older than Henry himself, was a respected mercer with a talent for languages and diplomacy.’
    • ‘Henry Spencer Ashbee was a senior partner in a silk mercers, a collector of watercolours and a corresponding member of the Royal Academy of Madrid.’


Middle English: from Old French mercier, based on Latin merx, merc- ‘goods’.