AskDefine | Define commerce

Dictionary Definition



1 transactions (sales and purchases) having the objective of supplying commodities (goods and services) [syn: commercialism, mercantilism]
2 the United States federal department that promotes and administers domestic and foreign trade (including management of the census and the patent office); created in 1913 [syn: Department of Commerce, Commerce Department, DoC]
3 social exchange, especially of opinions, attitudes, etc.

User Contributed Dictionary



From commerce.


  • IPA:
    • US: /ˈkɑ.mɝs/
    • UK: /ˈkɒ.mɜs/ (Formerly accented on the second syllable.)


  1. The exchange or buying and selling of commodities; esp. the exchange of merchandise, on a large scale, between different places or communities; extended trade or traffic.
  2. Social intercourse; the dealings of one person or class in society with another; familiarity.
    • Macaulay:
      Fifteen years of thought, observation, and commerce with the world had made him [Bunyan] wiser.
  3. Sexual intercourse.
  4. A round game at cards, in which the cards are subject to exchange, barter, or trade.


large scale trade
social interaction
term in cards


  1. To carry on trade; to traffic.
    Beware you commerce not with bankrupts. -B. Jonson.
  2. To hold intercourse; to commune.
    Commercing with himself. -Tennyson.
    Musicians ... taught the people in angelic harmonies to commerce with heaven. -Prof. Wilson.



From commercium; com- + merx, mercis, merchandise.



fr-noun m

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

Commerce is a division of trade or production which deals with the exchange of goods and services from producer to final consumer. It comprises the trading of something of economic value such as goods, services, information or money between two or more entities. Commerce functions as the central mechanism which drives capitalism and certain other economic systems (but compare command economy, for example). Commercialization or commercialisation consists of the process of transforming something into a product, service or activity which one may then use in commerce.

Word usage

Commerce primarily expresses the fairly abstract notions of buying and selling, whereas trade may refer to the exchange of a specific class of goods ("the sugar trade", for example), or to a specific act of exchange (as in "a trade on the stock-exchange").
Business can refer to an organization set up for the purpose of engaging in manufacturing or exchange, as well as serving as a loose synonym of the abstract collective "commerce and industry". Compare with retailing.


Some commentators trace the origins of commerce to the very start of communication in prehistoric times. Apart from traditional self-sufficiency, trading became a principal facility of prehistoric people, who bartered what they had for goods and services from each other. Historian Peter Watson dates the history of long-distance commerce from circa 150,000 years ago.
In historic times, the introduction of currency as a standardized money facilitated a wider exchange of goods and services. Numismatists have collections of these monies, which include coins from some Ancient World large-scale societies, although initial usage involved unmarked lumps of precious metal.
The circulation of a standardized currency provides the major advantage to commerce of overcoming the "double coincidence of wants" necessary for barter trades to occur. For example, if a man who makes pots for a living needs a new house, he may wish to hire someone to build it for him. But he cannot make an equivalent number of pots to equal this service done for him, because even if the builder could build the house, the builder might not want the pots. Currency solved this problem by allowing a society as a whole to assign values and thus to collect goods and services effectively and to store them for later use, or to split them among several providers.
Today commerce includes a complex system of companies that try to maximize their profits by offering products and services to the market (which consists both of individuals and other companies) at the lowest production-cost. There exists a system of world-wide or foreign commerce, which some argue has gone too far (see main: Free trade).

See also


commerce in Arabic: تجارة
commerce in Bengali: বাণিজ্য
commerce in Bulgarian: Търговия
commerce in Catalan: Comerç
commerce in Danish: Handel
commerce in German: Handel
commerce in Spanish: Comercio
commerce in Esperanto: Komerco
commerce in Basque: Merkatzaritza
commerce in Persian: بازرگانی
commerce in French: Commerce
commerce in Italian: Commercio
commerce in Hebrew: מסחר
commerce in Hindi: वाणिज्य
commerce in Georgian: კომერცია
commerce in Dutch: Handel
commerce in Japanese: 商業
commerce in Occitan (post 1500): Comèrci
commerce in Portuguese: Comércio
commerce in Russian: Торговля
commerce in Simple English: Trade
commerce in Slovenian: Trgovina
commerce in Chinese: 商业

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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