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illustration Colporteur



Part of speech: noun

Origin: French, 18th century


A person who sells books, newspapers, and similar literature.


Someone employed by a religious society to distribute Bibles and other religious tracts.

Examples of Colporteur in a sentence

"All along the Seine, Parisian colporteurs line up to sell books out of wagons."

"Outside the bus station, colporteurs were offering newspapers, magazines, and flyers."

About Colporteur

“Colporteur” is a loanword from French, where it was created by combining “col,” meaning “neck,” and “porteur,” meaning “carrier” or “porter.”

Did you Know?

In its original French, the word “colporteur” refers to a hawker or peddler of any kind — it’s still in use today as a synonym for “door-to-door salesperson” and is seen on door stickers reading “Pas de Colporteurs,” which is equivalent to the English “No Solicitors.” In English, the loanword “colporteur” is associated specifically with peddlers of published materials, and historically, religious books in particular. Thus, anyone who hawks tracts for sale in public places is a colporteur. (Famed American composer Cole Porter has no association with the word.)

illustration Colporteur

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