(also ‘coster’; plural: ‘costermongers‘; pronunciation: the letter  ‘c’ is said with a ‘k’ sound, and the letter ‘cost’ rhyme with the word “cost” — ‘coster…monger’)

old British usage

a costermonger with his cart

a person who sells fruit, vegetables, fish, or other goods from a small cart/donkey cart, barrow, or a stall or standing by the streets, or walking along the streets pushing the cart or barrow;

a barrow-man; a hawker,

a costermonger selling vegetables

Technically a costermonger is a hawker; however, what differentiates a costermonger from a hawker is that a costermonger sells his ware from a barrow, cart, or has a stall or standing in the market, whereas a hawker usually carries his ware on a ‘shallow’, a kind of tray carried on one’s head, and walks the streets crying out his ware!

The name and the profession of a costermonger may have gone out of use in London or in other parts of Europe by the end of the 19th century, but we still see costermongers selling fruit and vegetables near market places and on the streets of towns and cities in parts of Asia, especially in the Indian sub-continent.

According to a blog post, a costermonger in the past never stole anything from another costermonger; in fact, all the costermongers continued their trade with cooperation and care for one another in such a way that even the local petty thieves would stay away from them.

For the right pronunciation of this word, please click here. For an article on the life style of a costermonger in London in 1850, please click here, for an article on the probable origin of this word, please click here, and for another article that tells us the story of costermongers in the past, please click here.
Return to “monger“.         Return to “barrow-man“.
About the Author:BC Kumar

BC Kumar, an English Language Teacher, taught in numerous countries including Ethiopia, Oman and India, shares his knowledge and passion for the English Language. Disclaimer: This is a free educational website and all content has been compiled by the author. All copyrights to images and videos belong to their respective owners.

Comments are closed.