Saturday, 29 April 2017


I called in at a local fruit shop today to get some oranges for a favourite pumpkin soup recipe.

As I was squeezing the juice out of the oranges and zesting one of them, I thought about the fact that I call the proprietor of this type of shop a greengrocer, and I began to wonder what the connection is between a grocer and a greengrocer.

Once the soup was made, I looked at the Online Etymology Dictionary and discovered read  about the noun:
early 15c. (mid-13c. as a surname), "wholesale dealer, one who buys and sells in gross," corrupted spelling of Anglo-French grosser, Old French grossier, fromMedieval Latin grossarius "wholesaler," literally "dealer in quantity" (source also of Spanish grosero, Italian grosseiro), from Late Latin grossus "coarse (of food), great, gross"...(adj.)). Sense of "a merchant selling individual items of food" is 16c.: in Middle English this was a spicer.
I haven't ever met anyone with the surname 'Grocer'. I wonder what the variants might be.

The Word Detective has a post about the connection of this word with the word gross.
The article says the Americans invented the word grocery. In Australia when I was growing up, my family referred to such a shop as the grocer's.

The Cambridge Dictionary has the usage as grocer's in the UK.

At the forum of, calvindebeverley has written about the American usage:
Ok here is the deal. I have no idea what the word grocer means in any part of the world than the US so take that to heart in what follows. The word grocery and grocer in the US refers to an old type of store. It was usually owned and operated by a family, father being the grocer, and it sold many different items in "Gross" or large quantities because most people lived so far out on their ranches and farms that they needed to buy in quanity sometimes even to get them through a winter. In the southwest it meant at times also a bar or saloon but that was just because people in the Southwest are just that way! LOL. J/K. As time passed small stores that sold food retained the name grocery. Today there are very few real grocery stores in the old sense probably only found in small towns. Now the food department of say Walmart is todays grocery. And the very hard to find "helper" would be what is left of the "grocer". Ok now I am hungry, er....maybe I need a drink after all this typing!

I haven't been able to find any other reference to the use of the word grocery to mean a bar or saloon.

I think this article at is the most comprehensive one I  found.
And I enjoyed the word plays at Sesquiotica. com.

BTW, here's the recipe for the delicious pumpkin soup.

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