Webster 1913 Edition



, fr. L.
. See
Convenience; accommodation; profit; benefit; advantage; interest; commodiousness.
Drawn by the
of a footpath.
B. Jonson.
Men may seek their own
, yet if this were done with injury to others, it was not to be suffered.
That which affords convenience, advantage, or profit, especially in commerce, including everything movable that is bought and sold (except animals), – goods, wares, merchandise, produce of land and manufactures, etc.
A parcel or quantity of goods.
of brown paper and old ginger.

Webster 1828 Edition



, n.
Primarily, convenience; profit; advantage; interest. Men seek their own commodity. In this sense it was used by Hooker, Sidney, &c; but this is nearly or wholly obsolete.
That which affords ease, convenience or advantage; any thing that is useful, but particularly in commerce, including every thing movable that is bought and sold, goods, wares, merchandize, produce of land and manufactures. Unless perhaps animals may be excepted, the word includes all the movables which are objects of commerce.
Commodities are movables, valuable by money, the common measure.
The principal use of money is to save the commutation of more bulky commodities.
Staple commodities are those which are the produce or manufacture of a country, and constitute the principal articles of exportation. Thus flour is the staple commodity of New-York and Pennsylvania; flour and tobacco, of Maryland and Virginia; cotton and rice, of S. Carolina and Georgia; cotton and sugar, of Louisiana.

Definition 2024




Alternative forms


commodity (plural commodities)

  1. (obsolete) Convenience; usefulness, suitability. [15th-19th c.]
  2. Anything movable (a good) that is bought and sold. [from 15th c.]
    • 1995, James G. Carrier, Gifts and Commodities: Exchange and Western Capitalism Since 1700, p.122
      If a key part of shopping is the conversion of anonymous commodities into possessions, shopping is a cultural as much as an economic activity.
    • 2001, Rachel Pain, Introducing Social Geographies, p.26
      In human geography "commodities" usually refers to goods and services which are bought and sold. The simplest commodities are those produced by the production system just before they are sold.
    • 2005, William Leiss, Botterill, Jacki, Social Communication in Advertising: Consumption in the Mediated Marketplace, p.307
      • Referring to the work of Bourdieu, Zukin (2004,38) notes that shopping is much more than the purchase of commodities
  3. Something useful or valuable. [from 15th c.]
    • 2008, Jan. 14th, Somerset County Gazette
    And Slade said: "It really makes me sad that football club chairmen and boards seem to have lost that most precious commodity - patience. "Sam's sacking at Newcastle had, I suppose, been on the cards for a while, but it is really ridiculous to fire a manager after such a short time.
  4. (obsolete) Self-interest; personal convenience or advantage. [16th-19th c.]
    • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essayes, London: Edward Blount, OCLC 946730821, I.40:
      Shall we employ the intelligence Heaven hath bestowed upon us for our greatest good, to our ruine? repugning natures desseign and the universal order and vicissitude of things, which implieth that every man should use his instruments and meanes for his owne commoditie?
    • 1621, Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, NYRB, 2001, vol.1, p.321:
      they commonly respect their own ends, commodity is the steer of all their action [].
  5. (economics) Raw materials, agricultural and other primary products as objects of large-scale trading in specialized exchanges.
    The price of crude oil is determined in continuous trading between professional players in World's many commodities exchanges.
  6. (marketing) Undifferentiated goods characterized by a low profit margin, as distinguished from branded products.
    Although they were once in the forefront of consumer electronics, the calculators have become a mere commodity.
  7. (Marxism) Anything which has both a use-value and an exchange-value.

Derived terms

  • commodityism




commodity m (plural commoditys)

  1. commodity