AskDefine | Define colporteur

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A peddler of religious books

Extensive Definition

Colportage is the distribution of religious publications, books, tracts, etc., by carriers called colporteurs.
The term is an alteration of French comporter, "to peddle" as a portmanteau or pun with the word col (Latin collum, "neck"), with the resulting meaning "to carry on one's neck". Porter, is from Latin portare, "to carry."
The American Bible Society and the American Tract Society were among the largest organizations involved in colportage in the United States.
The term may also be seen referring to any kind of book peddling, not only the religious ones.
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