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From booth +‎ -man. Cognate with Scots buthman (a shop-keeper). In some cases, such as translations of Norse sagas, use of the word (to mean "one who mans a booth") was probably reinforced by the cognate Old Norse búðarmaðr (Icelandic búðarmaður).


boothman (plural boothmen)

  1. (rare) One who mans a booth, such as at a fair or (historically) a Thing.
    • 1994, George Johnston, Thrand of Gotu: two Icelandic sagas from the Flat Island book, page 108:
      A little later a man came running and he called urgently for Leif Ossursson, bade him go in haste to Gilli lawspeaker's booth: — Sigurd Thorlaksson ran in through the doorflap there and he wounded one of his boothmen to the death.
    • 2007, Peter Behrens, The Law of Dreams, page 186:
      He had seen the boothmen and horse dealers at fairs playing brightly colored cards, and gentlemen at Shea's with their cards, cigars, and brandies.
    • 2010, Anna Kendall, Crossing Over:
      [] an illusionist, a wrestler offering to take on all comers. Children ran among the booths, and couples strolled arm in arm. Fiddlers and drummers played, boothmen bawled out their wares, animals for sale bleated or lowed or clucked.
  2. (archaic or chiefly dialectal) A corn merchant, especially one in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
    • 1890, in the Monthly Chronicle of North-Country Lore and Legend, volume 4, page 540:
      He was not a native of Newcastle, but bad apparently come from the country in youth to serve his apprenticeship as a boothman, or corn merchant; had gone, when out of his time, to gain experience of commercial life in Germany; and []
    • 1894, Maberly Phillips, A History of Banks, Bankers, & Banking in Northumberland, Durham, & North Yorkshire, page 395:
      He served his time to a boothman or corn-merchant of Newcastle, and married Elizabeth, daughter of John Stephenson of Newcastle and Knaresdale. Through the death of both of his brothers, he inherited the patrimonial estates []
    • 2008, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:
      John Fenwick was apprenticed on 31 May 1612 to Robert Bewick of Newcastle upon Tyne, boothman.