"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).
"relating to trade or commerce; pertaining to merchants," c. 1400, from merchant (n.) and from Old French marcheant (adj.).
early 15c., retailen, "sell in small quantities or parcels," from the noun or from Old French retaillier "cut back, cut off, pare, clip, reduce, circumcise," from re- "back" (see re-) + taillier "to cut, trim" (see tailor (n.)). Sometimes also "to deal out (information, etc.) in small quantities; hand down by report; recount, tell over again" (1590s). Related: Retailed; retailing.
early 15c., "sale of commodities in small quantities or parcels" (opposed to wholesale), from Old French retail "piece cut off, shred, scrap, paring" (Modern French retaille), from retaillier "cut back, cut off" (see retail (v.)). The notion of the English word is "a selling by the piece." This sense is not in French, however, and comes perhaps from cognate Italian ritaglio, which does have that sense. As an adjective, "of or pertaining to sale at retail," c. 1600.
mid-15c., retaillour, "a retail merchant or dealer, one who sells goods in small quantities," agent noun from retail (v.) or else from Old French retailleor.
"the selling of goods in small quantities," mid-15c., verbal noun from retail (v.).
1580s, "place of trade, mart," from Latin emporium, from Greek emporion "trading place, market," from emporos "merchant," originally "traveler," from assimilated form of en "in" (see en- (2)) + poros "passage, voyage," related to peirein "to pass through," from PIE root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over."
Greek emporos in the "merchant" sense meant especially "one who trades on a large scale, usually but not necessarily by sea" [Buck], as opposed to kapelos "local retail dealer, shopkeeper." Properly, a town which serves as the commercial hub of a region, but by 1830s American English "Grandiloquently applied to a shop or store" [Craigie]. Glossed in Old English by ceapstow (see cheap), which has hardly the same dignity.
1520s, "one who keeps a shop for the sale of goods; a retail trader," as distinct from a merchant or wholesaler; from shop (n.) + keeper. The verbal phrase keep shop is attested from 15c. Caxton (late 15c.) uses shop-holder. The phrase nation of shopkeepers is in Adam Smith (1776), but rose to public attention c. 1803 as Napoleon's supposed disparaging and dismissive judgment on his neighbors to the north, who embraced the label. Related: Shop-keeping.
Bonaparte formerly called the English a nation of Shop-keepers; he mush acknowledge that we have COUNTER-acted all his projects. [Chester, Cheshire, and North Wales Advertiser, Dec. 19, 1817]
1570s, "large merchant vessel carrying rich freight," from Italian (nave) Ragusea "(vessel) of Ragusa," maritime city on the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic (modern Dubrovnik in Croatia). Their large merchant ships brought rich Eastern goods to 16c. England. The city name sometimes was Aragouse or Arragosa in 16c. English. Figurative use from 1620s.