• grocery •
Pronunciation: gro-sêr-ee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. (UK) Meat and vegetable produce. 2. (US) A small store where these products and household supplies (soap, mops, pots and pans, etc.) are sold.
Notes: The products sold in a grocery store are groceries in the US, grocery in the UK. Grocery is derived from the name of the person who runs a grocery store, a grocer. Grocery stores have all but been replaced by huge supermarkets and local convenience stores today. Convenience stores usually lack the fresh produce that characterize the grocery store, so the latter are sometimes called greengroceries to emphasize their fresh vegetables and fruits.
In Play: Interestingly enough, neighborhood grocery stores are still prevalent in large cities, where the population is sufficient to support them, "Mercedes stopped at the grocery (store) on her way home from work and picked up a lovely aubergine to stir fry." Getting the groceries home is always risky: "Elwin hung a bag of groceries on a little used doorknob and forgot them until the smell revived his memory."
Word History: Although (most) grocers aren't gross, gross is where their name comes from. Today's word is derived from grocer by the addition of the common suffix -y. Grocer originated in Medieval Latin grossarius "wholesale merchant", which entered English from Anglo-Norman grosser, bringing with it the same meaning. Grossarius was derived from Latin grossus "thick", which later came to mean simply "large". How did gross get its unfavorable meaning? The meanings "thick" and "large" led the word to refer to overweight people, which, through our usual prejudices, gave the word its current pejorative shade.