General English

  • noun a place where you can buy things
  • verb to look for and buy things in shops


  • noun a retail outlet where goods of a certain type are sold
  • noun a workshop, the place in a factory where goods are made
  • verb to go to shops to make purchases


  • noun an advertising agency


  • noun a place where goods are stored and sold


  • verb to inform on (someone). The noun shop meant prison in 16th-century British underworld parlance. The verb form was first used to mean imprison, then (since the first decades of the 19th century) to cause to be imprisoned. The word has become a well-known colloquialism since the 1960s; in school and prison slang it has largely been overtaken by the synonymous grass.

Origin & History of “shop”

The word shop had humble beginnings. It goes back to a prehistoric Germanic *skoppan, which denoted a small additional structure, such as a lean-to shed or a porch. there is one isolated example of an Old English descendant of thissceoppa, which denoted a ‘treasury’ – but this does not appear to have survived. The modern English word was borrowed from Old French eschoppe ‘booth, stall’, which in turn had got it from middle Low German schoppe. German dialect schopf ‘shed, shelter’ comes from the same source. The verb shop originated in the 16th century, in the sense ‘imprison’ (reflecting a now obsolete slang use of the noun shop for ‘prison’). This is the ancestor of modern British slang shop ‘inform against’. The sense ‘visit shops to buy things’ emerged in the mid 18th century.