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From Middle French trafique, traffique (traffic), from Italian traffico (traffic) from trafficare (to carry on trade). Potentially from Vulgar Latin *trānsfrīcāre (to rub across); Klein instead suggests the Italian has ultimate origin in Arabic تَفْرِيق(tafrīq, distribution, dispersion), reshaped to match the native prefix tra- (trans-).


  • enPR: trăf'ĭk, IPA(key): /ˈtɹæfɪk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æfɪk


traffic (usually uncountable, plural traffics)

  1. Moving pedestrians or vehicles, or the flux or passage thereof.
    The traffic is slow during rush hour.
    • 1597, William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (Prologue)
      And the continuance of their parents’ rage…is now the two hours traffic of this stage.
  2. Commercial transportation or exchange of goods, or the movement of passengers or people.
    • 1719, Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe:
      I had three large axes, and abundance of hatchets (for we carried the hatchets for traffic with the Indians).
    • 2007, John Darwin, After Tamerlane, Penguin, page 12:
      Its units of study are regions or oceans, long-distance trades [...], the traffic of cults and beliefs between cultures and continents.
  3. Illegal trade or exchange of goods, often drugs.
  4. Exchange or flux of information, messages or data, as in a computer or telephone network.
    • 1902, John Buchan, The Outgoing of the Tide
      The parish stank of idolatry, abominable rites were practiced in secret, and in all the bounds there was no one had a more evil name for the black traffic than one Alison Sempill, who bode at the Skerburnfoot.
    1. In CB radio, formal written messages relayed on behalf of others.
    2. (advertising) The amount of attention paid to a particular printed page etc. in a publication.
      • 1950, Advertising & Selling (volume 43, part 2, page 53)
        Those fixed locations which are sold to advertisers become preferred according to the expected page traffic.
  5. Commodities of the market.

Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


traffic (third-person singular simple present traffics, present participle trafficking, simple past and past participle trafficked)

  1. (intransitive) To pass goods and commodities from one person to another for an equivalent in goods or money; to buy or sell goods
    Synonym: trade
  2. (intransitive) To trade meanly or mercenarily; to bargain.
  3. (transitive) To exchange in traffic; to effect by a bargain or for a consideration.

Derived termsEdit