"dealer in small wares or merchandise of any sort," also, specifically, "dealer in textiles or clothes of any sort, especially silk," c. 1200 (late 12c. as a surname), from Old French mercier "shopkeeper, tradesman," from Vulgar Latin *merciarius, from Latin merx "wares, merchandise" (see market (n.)). Related: Mercery.
late 14c., mercenarie, "one who works only for hire, one who has no higher motive to work than love of gain," from Old French mercenaire "mercenary, hireling" (13c.) and directly from Latin mercenarius "one who does anything for pay," literally "hired, paid," from merces (genitive mercedis) "pay, reward, wages," from merx "wares, merchandise" (see market (n.)). Specifically "a professional soldier in foreign service" by mid-17c.
1530s, "social intercourse;" 1580s, "interchange of goods or property, trade," especially trade on a large scale by transportation between countries or different parts of the same country, from French commerce (14c.), from Latin commercium "trade, trafficking," from com "with, together" (see com-) + merx (genitive mercis) "merchandise" (see market (n.)). It also was the name of a card game very popular in 1770s and '80s. As a verb, "have dealings with," 1590s. Related: Commerced, commercing.
"one engaged in the business of buying commercial commodities and selling them again for profit," early 13c., marchaunt (late 12c. as a surname), from Anglo-French marchaunt "merchant, shopkeeper" (Old French marcheant, Modern French marchand), from Vulgar Latin *mercatantem (nominative *mercatans) "a buyer," present participle of *mercatare, frequentative of Latin mercari "to trade, traffic, deal in" (see market (n.)). Meaning "fellow, chap" is from 1540s; with a specific qualifier, and suggesting someone who deals in it (such as speed merchant "one who enjoys fast driving," by 1914).
"of or pertaining to merchants, trade, or commerce," 1640s, from French mercantile (17c.), from Italian mercantile, from Medieval Latin mercantile, from Latin mercantem (nominative mercans) "a merchant," also "trading," present participle of mercari "to trade," from merx "wares, merchandise" (see market (n.)). Mercantile system first appears in Adam Smith (1776).
Mercantile system, in polit. econ., the belief generally held till the end of the last century, that all wealth consists in gold and silver, and that therefore the exportation of goods and importation of gold should be encouraged by the state, while the importation of goods and the exportation of gold should be forbidden, or at least restricted as much as possible. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
late 12c., "God's forgiveness of his creatures' offenses," from Old French mercit, merci (9c.) "reward, gift; kindness, grace, pity," from Latin mercedem (nominative merces) "reward, wages, pay, hire" (in Vulgar Latin "favor, pity;" in Medieval Latin "thanks; grace"), from merx (genitive mercis) "wares, merchandise" (see market (n.)). In Church Latin (6c.) it was given a specific application to the heavenly reward earned by those who show kindness to the helpless and those from whom no requital can be expected.
Meaning "disposition to forgive or show compassion" is attested from early 13c. Sense of "an act or exercise of forbearance or good will" is from c. 1300. As an interjection, attested from mid-13c. (short for may God have mercy, have mercy on me, etc.). Many of the English senses are found earlier in French, but in French the word largely has been superseded by miséricorde except as a word of thanks. Sense of "discretionary action" (as in at (one's) mercy) is from mid-14c. Seat of mercy "golden covering of the Ark of the Covenant" (1530), hence "the throne of God," is Tyndale's loan-translation of Luther's gnadenstuhl, an inexact translation of Latin propitiatorium, ultimately a rendering of Hebrew kapporeth, literally "propitiatory."
"the Roman god Mercury," herald and ambassador of his father, Jupiter, mid-12c., Mercurie, from Latin Mercurius "Mercury," originally a god of tradesmen and thieves, from merx "merchandise" (see market (n.)); or perhaps [Klein, Tucker] from Etruscan and influenced by merx. De Vaan thinks it possible the whole stem *merk- was borrowed and the god-name with it.
Mercury later was identified with Greek Hermes and still later with Germanic Woden. From his role as a messenger and conveyor of information, since mid-17c. Mercury has been a common name for a newspaper.
The planet closest to the sun was so called in classical Latin (c. 1300 in English). A hypothetical inhabitant of the planet was a Mercurean (1855) or a Mercurian (1755). For the metallic element, see mercury.
In U.S. numismatics, the Mercury-head dime (so called by 1941) was in circulation from 1916; properly it is the female head of Liberty, in her characteristic cap, here winged to symbolize freedom of thought. But the resemblance to Mercury was noted in coin circles at once, and the coin design sometimes was popularly mistaken as the head of Mercury, Roman god of making money and thieving, in his winged hat. It was so-called in 1933 in newspaper articles calling attention to the fasces on the reverse. The coin is more correctly the Winged Liberty-head dime (simple Liberty-head dime being a designation of the previous design). The design was replaced in 1946, which made it necessary for it to have an agreed-upon specifying name.
There's the four-year-old who counted out 20 cents with the remark: "A boy dime and a girl dime."
Translated, this means a Roosevelt dime and one classified by coin books as the "new Mercury head" dime.
[Dothan Eagle, June 25, 1951]
1670s, coarse, abusive language of the sort once used by women in the Billingsgate market on the River Thames below London Bridge.
Billingsgate is the market where the fishwomen assemble to purchase fish; and where, in their dealings and disputes they are somewhat apt to leave decency and good manners a little on the left hand. [Grose, "A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1788]
The place name is Old English Billingesgate, "gate of (a man called) Billing;" the "gate" probably being a gap in the Roman river wall. The market is from mid-13c.; it was not exclusively a fish market until late 17c.
"principal article grown or made in a country or district," early 15c., "official market for some class of merchandise," from Anglo-French estaple (14c.), Old French estaple "counter, stall; regulated market, depot," from a Germanic source akin to Middle Low German stapol, Middle Dutch stapel "market," literally "pillar, foundation," from the same source as staple (n.1), the notion perhaps being of market stalls behind pillars of an arcade, or else of a raised platform where the king's deputies administered judgment.
The sense of "principal article grown or made in a place" is 1610s, short for staple ware "wares and goods from a market" (early 15c.). Meaning "principle element or ingredient in anything" is from 1826. Meaning "fiber of any material used for spinning" is late 15c., of uncertain origin, and perhaps an unrelated word.