Green’s Dictionary of Slang

merchant n.

1. a man, a fellow, esp. as an adept of a particular interest, use is usu. in a variety of qualifying combs., e.g. blag-merchant under blag n.; bull merchant under bull n.6 ; caper merchant under caper n.2 ; fanny merchant under fanny n.2 ; feather merchant under feather n.; hoist-merchant under hoist n.; hop merchant under hop n.1 ; jump-up merchant under jump-up n.; lay-down merchant n.; lush merchant under lush n.1 ; mutton merchant under mutton n.; reader merchant under reader n.; timber-merchant under timber n.; tootle-merchant under tootle n.; wood merchant under wood n.1 .

W. Latimer Sermon before Edward VI (Arb.) n.p.: The crafty merchant (what-ever he be) that will set brother against brother, meaneth to destroy them both [N].
[UK]Hist. of Jacob and Esau V vi: What ye saucie merchaunt, are ye a prater now?
[UK]New Custom I i: I woulde so haue scourged my marchant, that his breeche should ake.
[Ire]Stanyhurst Of Virgil his Æneis II: A brasse bold merchaunt in causes dangerus hardye.
[UK]Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet II iv: I pray you, sir, what saucy merchant was this that was so full of his ropery?
[UK]N. Field Woman is a Weathercock III iii: The merchant is dead for shame.
[UK]R. Brome City Wit III ii: We hop’d he would have prov’d a crafty Merchant, and he prov’d an honest man, a Beggar.
[UK]Rowley Match at Midnight V i: I knew you were a crafty Merchant, you helped my Master to such bargaines vpon the Exchange last night.
[UK]‘M.W.’ Marriage Broaker II i: We are call’d Merchants of the Maidenhead.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 375: [footnote] This Grimstone is a preaching shoemaker, and as fine a fellow as either of the other two brimstone merchants.
[UK]R. Nares Gloss. (1888) II 564: merchant, s. Familiarly used, as we now say a chap (with much the same meaning, being only a contraction of chapman), a saucy chap, or the like.
[UK]Disraeli Venetia I 152: ‘We’ll make a Turkey merchant* of you yet,’ said an old gipsy. (*i.e. We will teach you to steal a turkey).
[UK]Gem 17 Oct. 13: I rather like Railton [...] Seems a decent sort of merchant.
[UK]Wodehouse Psmith Journalist (1993) 196: I will interview these merchants.
[US]S. Lewis Babbitt (1974) 148: He’s not dumb, like the old-fashioned merchant.
E. Wallace Joker (1950) 44: I’ve just got a feeling that you might. I’m a hunch merchant [...] premonitions are my long suit.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 11 Aug. n.p.: Runners were flitting hither and thither [...] conveying the latest market quotations to their clients, the bookmakers. ‘Double’ merchants were legion.
[UK]N. Gale ‘The Favourite’ in Messrs Bat and Ball 38: You and I, / As snowbound fancy often chooses, / Upon our hearthrug will defy / The Leg-Break Merchant and his ruses.
[UK]K. Mackenzie Living Rough 151: I left the land of [...] high-powered salesmen, hot-air merchants.
[Aus]Baker in Sun. Mail (Brisbane) 12 July 6/5: Vivid War Slang [...] Buzz merchant: A rumour spread, furphy king.
D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam Star-News 3 Apr. 13: Shavers, the half-pint swing merchant of the John Kirby band.
[US]N. Algren Neon Wilderness (1986) 34: Old rogues and wagon grifters, shakedown artists and coneroos, heel thieves and strong-arm merchants, [...] cat burglars from Brooklyn and live wires from nowhere.
[UK]F. Norman in Sun. Graphic 20 July in Norman’s London (1969) 18: The teenagers and skiffle merchants.
[UK]A. Delmayne Sahara Desert Escape 201: I saw a pair of black boots and leggings [...] Black boots and black leather leggings are worn only by the Gardes Mobiles, and this merchant was much too near for my liking .
[US]H. Rhodes Chosen Few (1966) 34: I guess that was jus’ too much for a shit merchant like him.
[UK]L. Dunne Goodbye to The Hill (1966) 86: I was a big-chat merchant, I could talk to anybody.
[UK]A. Bleasdale Scully 174: Y’all shitbags an’ cack merchants.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 39: How did you know they were boardsmen — three-card trick merchants?
[UK]J. McClure Spike Island (1981) 356: Well, what have you got in the middle? one asks. The violence merchants.
[UK]A. Payne ‘Senior Citizen Caine’ in Minder [TV script] 28: You eyeball that doctor they come up with? Right strait-jacket merchant, if ever I saw one.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Boys from Binjiwunyawunya 104: Even a drainpipe merchant could unsuspectingly climb up over the balcony intent on robbing the joint.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 108: Fastbuck merchants from the City, publishers, the odd egghead sewer rat.
[Scot]I. Welsh Trainspotting 18: An ex-skag merchant always knows when someone is sick.
[UK]J. Cameron Vinnie Got Blown Away 61: I thought on other powder merchants.
[UK]K. Sampson Awaydays 16: There’s only about five or six regular Stanley [knife] merchants in The Pack.
[UK]N. Barlay Crumple Zone 139: Guy’s a one-punch merchant.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 27 Jan. 7: Such doom merchants [...] forget the The Archers’ story lines, 20 or 30 years ago, used to be considerably fruitier, darker and more violent.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 462: Barstard fuckin crusty rip-off merchant wankas.
[UK]N. ‘Razor’ Smith Raiders 56: The action merchants [...] got tooled up.
[UK]R. Milward Ten Storey Love Song 70: To be a professional Dole Merchant, you’ve got to have good qualifacations in Excuse Making.
[US]W. Keyser ‘Carny Lingo’ in 🌐 Heat Merchant — A carny whose personality and actions arouse so many complaints from the patrons that local authorities harass the entire carnival.
[Aus]Betoota-isms 148: [T]he back-page outrage merchants.
[UK]J. Meades Empty Wigs (t/s) 578: He’s on the immensely plump side for a rock musician...not great for the brand... two lunch merchant... slobbering glutton.

2. (N.Z. prison) a drug seller or their stock [from SE and abbrev. merchandise].

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 116/1: merchant n. 1 an inmate in possession of a steady supply of drugs for sale to other inmates 2 an inmate’s store of drugs and/or other contraband.