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A haberdasher is a person who sells small articles for sewing, such as buttons, ribbons, zips, and other notions (in the United Kingdom) or a men's outfitter (American English). A haberdasher's shop or the items sold therein are called haberdashery.
The word appears in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Haberdashers were initially peddlers, sellers of small items such as needles and buttons. It should be noted that the word is thought to have no connection with an Old Norse word akin to the Icelandic haprtask, which means peddlers' wares or the sack in which the peddler carried them. If that had been the case, a haberdasher (in its hypothetical Scandinavian meaning) would be very close to a mercer (French). Since the word has no recorded use in Scandinavia, it is most likely derived from the Anglo-Norman hapertas, meaning small ware. A haberdasher would retail small wares, the goods of the peddler, while a mercer would specialize in "linens, silks, fustian, worsted piece-goods and bedding".
Saint Louis IX, the King of France 1226–70, is the patron saint of haberdashers in France. In Belgium and other places in Continental Europe, it is Saint Nicholas, while in the City of London the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers adopted Saint Catherine as the patron saint of the guild.
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