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Under the influence of Isaiah 23:8, describing "Tyre... whose merchants are princes..."[1]


merchant prince (plural merchant princes)

  1. (historical or figuratively) A mercantile plutocrat: a man who wields great de facto political power by virtue of economic assets derived from trade and commerce.
    • 1760, The Modern Part of an Universal History, Vol. XVI, Bk. xvii, Ch. vii, p. 466:
      The customs and duties paid by each ship, great or small, amount in the whole to 70 or 80 slaves. The king [sc. of Ardrah] has the first choice of goods, whether in the payment of duties, or in exchange for slaves; the hereditary prince the second, the merchant prince the third, the Marbut the fourth, and afterwards the great officers of the court.
    • 1951, Isaac Asimov, Foundation, Pt. V: “The Merchant Princes, Ch. 18, p. 189:
      “’re establishing a plutocracy. You’re making us a land of traders and merchant princes. Then what of the future?”
  2. (figuratively) A prince among merchants: a wealthy and influential merchant.




  1. ^ "merchant, n. and adj.", in the Oxford English Dictionary (2001), Oxford: Oxford University Press.