Definition of merchant in English:



  • 1A person or company involved in wholesale trade, especially one dealing with foreign countries or supplying merchandise to a particular trade.

    ‘a tea merchant’
    ‘the area's leading timber merchant’
    • ‘As American pioneers headed westward, scoundrels occasionally would present forged letters of credit to wholesale merchants in larger towns.’
    • ‘This will not rely on passing trade and are mainly sold wholesale to other merchants.’
    • ‘On the Chinese side, the Canton authorities limited trade with the foreign merchants to a group of Chinese merchant houses, the Hongs, nominally thirteen in number.’
    • ‘Use the same judgment and common sense with internet, phone or mail-order merchants that you use in shops.’
    • ‘The Chinese occupied the position of intermediaries between foreign western merchants and the domestic market.’
    • ‘The specialists simply have to intensify their focus to stay alive, offering products and services that mass merchants cannot.’
    • ‘It was then the business of FT Burley & Son, wholesale fruit merchants and ‘banana specialists’, and boasted a ripening room.’
    • ‘They acquire their goods on consignment from wholesale merchants in the larger towns, then carry them on the train into the countryside.’
    • ‘Some of the well-known family businesses include timber merchants and builders' providers the McMahon Group.’
    • ‘For merchants selling children's products, though, a dab of color and creativity can certainly boost traffic.’
    • ‘The United States seeks contracts with regional industries and merchants for supplies, services, facilities, and labor to support bases.’
    • ‘Producers and merchants trading in pine honey risk confiscation of their goods if they put it on the market with this trade mark.’
    • ‘Though a number of companies and merchants traded with different places, the Netherlands gradually predominated, particularly for the export of cloth.’
    • ‘Many of the nation's shoppers also behave online a lot like they would at the local mall: buying the same kinds of products from the same merchants.’
    • ‘Before emigrating he worked in his father's business of wholesale yeast merchants in Stricklandgate.’
    • ‘In the printing industry, for example, very large printers obtain their inks direct from manufacturers, while smaller printers tend to rely on wholesale merchants.’
    • ‘More than 80 merchants sell fresh produce, meat, fish, flowers, breads, crafts, books and clothing.’
    • ‘One road sells cane-ware, another has scrap merchants trading in steel and iron, wholesale merchants who deal in old cloth.’
    • ‘The port was transported to the port merchants' warehouses in Oporto where it sat for years, sometimes decades, until the brandy and wine had integrated fully.’
    • ‘Consumers are turning away from traditional department stores and shopping more at mass merchants, discounters and warehouse marts.’
    1. 1.1North American A retail trader; a store owner.
      ‘the credit cards are accepted by 10 million merchants worldwide’
      • ‘It is obvious that much depends upon the psychology of the merchants and other traders, and particularly on their expectations as to the course of markets.’
      • ‘For days upon days, merchants and traders had brought various bolts and pieces of cloth for Erial and Madame to consider.’
      • ‘Powerless though the Serlians may be politically, they are honest merchants and prolific traders.’
      • ‘Most of these marketing efforts were directed toward retail merchants.’
      • ‘Taking a deep breath, Julian pressed on through the Zetapol market, where merchants and traders competed in hollering.’
      • ‘They brushed past merchants and traders and came to the bridge, where a surly-looking guard with a grey-tipped beard stood.’
      • ‘In the blink of an eye, her ring collections jetted from the showrooms into the gleaming display cases of the world class retail merchants like Bloomingdales.’
      • ‘The majority of Indo-Fijians who left following the coup were shop owners and other retail merchants and bankers.’
      • ‘If so, then why have men traders, merchants and entrepreneurs been assumed to reside within the public?’
      • ‘All Pro projects that the products will bring in more than $8-million in retail sales to area merchants.’
      • ‘In the early days of the late 1990s, pioneer online merchants fruitlessly spent millions of dollars on TV and radio ads aimed at the mass market.’
      • ‘I think retail merchants have to make that decision for themselves.’
      • ‘This is the perfect location for this show because William Hadwen was a merchant who retailed silver and other goods on Nantucket during the early nineteenth century.’
      • ‘Its merchant network includes 11.7 million merchants and spans 190 countries and territories.’
      • ‘He was succeeded by his uncle Malarangiah, who encouraged traders and merchants from different parts of India to settle in Bangalore.’
      • ‘Inside the walls were the rest, the ones who fell into the middle, the lower merchants, traders, dealers, hawkers, along with business of all kinds crammed into the walls.’
      • ‘Millions of misguided merchants paying their hardearned out to deluded ‘designers’ so that they too can join the cyberspace community.’
      • ‘One of the town's biggest retail merchants wants Wal-Mart to move in.’
      • ‘Chinese merchants and traders arrived and settled in the ninth century A.D.’
      • ‘New markets could also be found among those profiting most from industrialisation, not just manufacturers, but traders, merchants and bankers.’
      trader, dealer, trafficker, wholesaler, broker, agent, seller, buyer, buyer and seller, salesman, salesperson, saleswoman, vendor, retailer, shopkeeper, tradesman, distributor, representative, commercial traveller, marketer, marketeer, pedlar, hawker
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (in historical contexts) a person involved in trade or commerce.
      ‘prosperous merchants and clothiers had established a middle class’
      • ‘The study day includes lectures on the links between Sheba and Axum, Arab merchants of the Middle Ages and Navigation and Commerce from Aden.’
      • ‘When Norwood, a prosperous bond merchant, built the house, Fourteenth Street was at the northernmost edge of development on Manhattan Island.’
      • ‘Bristol poet, Thomas Rowley, a monk and friend of William Canynge, a historical Bristol merchant.’
      • ‘Thus, playing the Nubians allowed me to get access to commerce advances early, letting me build caravans and merchants to generate enough wealth for my endeavors.’
      • ‘He says the doom merchants' prophecies should be put in context.’
      • ‘Many of them were prosperous merchants and, possible, noblemen.’
      • ‘The Letter of Law emphasized the importance of facilitating commerce and assisting merchants to develop their trading activities.’
      • ‘He also initiated trade between the Franks and the Muslims and made commercial pacts with the merchants of Venice who traded with both Byzantium and Islam.’
      • ‘In virtue of the abundant salt produced in Shanxi, the earliest Shanxi merchants arrived on the historical stage.’
      • ‘When King James continued his slide to absolutism… even the larger merchants and commercial landowners in England became alarmed.’
      • ‘See the ancient history of merchants for a continuation of this advice, as applied to the art of selling wine.’
      • ‘Association football, founded in 1863, was mostly spread by the merchants and clerks of British commerce and by the engineers who built the European and South American railways.’
      • ‘Thus, the potential of global exposure to global communication, the dream of every merchant in history, has arrived.’
      • ‘Dutch merchants and Dutch commercial capital poured into Londen after 1690 and went to play an important role in the re-export trade between England and the Continent.’
      • ‘Piero della Francesca, who came from a family of fairly prosperous merchants, is recognised as one of the most important painters of the Renaissance.’
      • ‘A very well off and prosperous merchant, to be sure, but my ancestors had to work for the respect my father has now.’
      • ‘He came from a family of prosperous silk merchants and was chairman of the textile firm Courtaulds Ltd. from 1921 to 1946.’
      • ‘Growing overseas commerce with colonies stimulated merchants to provide ships, as well as goods for expanding settler societies.’
      • ‘In the terror which followed, the wealth of the prosperous merchants made them a particular target, and axe, rope, and fire consumed the natural leaders of Dutch society.’
      • ‘It was founded high on a series of hills by prosperous Saxon merchants in the Middle Ages.’
  • 2informal, derogatory usually with modifier A person with a partiality or aptitude for a particular activity or viewpoint.

    ‘his driver was no speed merchant’
    ‘a merchant of death’
    • ‘Mr Adams is no agitprop merchant; his music would be deeply boring if he was.’
    • ‘I work in internet advertising (but not in sales, I have my pride) so sometimes the spam merchant techniques to grab people's attention will perk my interest.’
    • ‘Come on out, you fuzzy-headed wind-up merchant.’
    • ‘I have only heard what Jimmy told me, which was told to him by Lawrence, the Champion embellisher wind-up merchant - he spread it round the neighbourhood we were lost in the Maldives.’
    • ‘A rarity from the archives, this solo album was recorded for the Japanese market a quarter of a century ago, when he was almost as well known as the thinking person's funk merchant as a straightahead pianist.’
    • ‘The diary's favourite balls-up merchant is still Danny, though.’
    • ‘He can expect to find Sampras, the ultimate serve and volley merchant, claiming a position netside with the same sort of voracity with which a German holidaymaker stakes his claim poolside.’
    • ‘In a masterstroke of casting, He plays Vanya as a bored and disappointed man who entertains himself by playing the Glasgow wind-up merchant.’
    • ‘Jose has been enjoying the build-up to this game and has comfortably added to his reputation as European football's best wind-up merchant.’
    • ‘Happy to slug it out from the baseline, he is happiest coming in to the net and combines the booming serve with the delicate touch of a true serve and volley merchant.’
    • ‘It is the perfect watch for a well-honed style merchant on sinister covert missions.’
    • ‘The play will run from March 27 to April 3 and will tell the story of Vincent, a professional suicide merchant, and the strange situation in which he finds himself.’


  • 1attributive Relating to merchants, trade, or commerce.

    ‘the growth of the merchant classes’
    • ‘At this stage in history, the merchant class, desperate for money to finance their adventures, struggled with the monopoly of the moneylenders and overcame it.’
    • ‘During those years in north-central Italy a new merchant class was forming (to which Francis belonged).’
    • ‘Along with Westerners, the Chinese merchant class dominated the economy in the nineteenth century, especially with the exportation of rice.’
    • ‘Toward the left foreground are the small yellow houses of the common people; note the red roofs of the merchant class, clustered around the open bazaar.’
    • ‘Tulips became a status symbol - and wealthy Dutch and European aristocrats and newly-wealthy merchant classes had to have them!’
    • ‘They were timber-panelled inside and were the fairly modest residences of the trading and merchant classes.’
    • ‘His sympathies to socialism were further rebellion against his family background from the merchant class of Manchester.’
    • ‘In the end, it will be commerce and the merchant class that will provide, and they will have to go it alone, without the help of superpowers.’
    • ‘Farmers originally settled the area in the north of Manhattan, then came prominent white families and then the white merchant class.’
    • ‘Was it some subtle dig at the disgraceful standards of literacy among the merchant classes of 16th-century Venice?’
    • ‘While quarto publications were within the reach of many of London's merchant class, the publication of the First Folio placed the authoritative works of Shakespeare in the hands of the few.’
    • ‘The expansion of the merchant classes was already a feature of life in the 15th century, and by the 16th it had become a phenomenon.’
    • ‘The revolution he envisioned would be accomplished through the cooperation of lower ranking samurai and men from the peasant and merchant classes.’
    • ‘However, the lower orders turned against the merchant class and demanded political and social changes that were in fact, if not in name, democratic.’
    • ‘Contrary to what Maria was expecting, it wasn't covered in gold and fine silk but was more like the common ones used by the merchant class.’
    • ‘They had the support of the merchant class, the whites and the rich.’
    • ‘Calls for western-style reforms tend to be confined to the merchant classes and some members of the existing establishment.’
    • ‘The people who benefited most, economically, were the merchant class and slightly wealthier farmers.’
    • ‘Born in late medieval Italy, Francis repudiated his life among the wealthy merchant class to espouse to himself Lady Poverty and live as a wandering begging friar.’
    • ‘More attention was paid to the removal of stone than to the finished product, and thus, a rising merchant class replaced the Middletown school of gravestone carvers.’
    1. 1.1 (of ships, sailors, or shipping activity) involved with commerce rather than military activity.
      ‘a merchant seaman’
      • ‘In fact, foreign sailors and merchant seamen were the first to spread the myth of Kobe beef back in the early nineteenth century.’
      • ‘Built of English oak and Cornish elm, they are traditionally designed and locally built rowing boats originally used to deliver pilots to incoming merchant ships.’
      • ‘The fleet of merchant ships was as busy as Rome readying for war.’
      • ‘Not only did warships have to be built in Australia but also repaired, merchant ships were also converted for war use.’
      • ‘When he sails, he normally sails as a merchant sailor, because he is paid and has no responsibility.’
      • ‘During filming, the ship was called to a real-life drama when a Greek merchant ship caught fire, making the ship safe and fielding nine bravery awards into the bargain.’
      • ‘The English were informed of the Spanish movements and quickly assembled a fleet of mostly merchant ships.’
      • ‘Summer runs were deemed too risky, because foul winter weather provided far better cover for slow-moving merchant ships.’
      • ‘Chen calculated an average of 50 seamen lose their lives and another 50 disappear without trace at sea each year aboard merchant ships and fishing boats.’
      • ‘During those years, she had seen many wounded naval officers and merchant sailors.’
      • ‘She gave protection to the merchant ships and sailors, and gave those ashore confidence that the vital supplies would always get through under her watchful eye.’
      • ‘Most of the pirates were on the merchant ship, and the good merchant sailors were greatly outnumbered.’
      • ‘Nearly 3,000 British sailors and merchant seamen lost their lives on the convoys.’
      • ‘The rest of his young adulthood became a quest for financial security, and he shipped out as a merchant sailor.’
      • ‘As well as being the senior ensign of the King's ships, the red ensign was also worn by merchant ships.’
      • ‘The two larger ships that dominated the center of the formation were clearly galleons: armed merchant ships.’
      • ‘As early as the fourteenth century Europeans had suspected that rats spread the plague from quarantined merchant ships to the port cities.’
      • ‘Their success in picking off merchant ships proved very useful.’
      • ‘At twelve years of age, Verne ran off to be a cabin boy on a merchant ship, thinking he was going to have an adventure.’
      • ‘Aside from building railway carriages he also worked on merchant ships for the American cargo fleet.’
      commercial, trade, trading, business, merchant, sales
      View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French marchant, based on Latin mercari ‘to trade’, from merx, merc- ‘merchandise’.