what is the origin of the word "sale" meaning to sell somthing at a dicounted price
Lewis Joplin II
SELL - Old English. "The underlying etymological meaning of 'sell' is 'give up, hand over,' but gradually the notion of handing something over in exchange for something else, particularly money, led to its present-day sense. Both meanings co-existed in Old English, but the original one died out by the 14th century. The word comes from a prehistoric Germanic 'saljan'..." SALE - " 'Sale' was borrowed from Old Norse 'sala.' This came from the same prehistoric Germanic base, 'sal-' that produced English 'sell.' The word's specific application to the 'selling of goods at lower-than-normal prices' did not emerge until the 1860s." From the "Dictionary of Word Origins: the Histories of More Than 8,000 English-Language Words" by John Ayto (Arcade Publishing, New York, 1990).

SALES LADY, 1856; sales woman, 1870s; sales girl, 1887. From "I Hear America Talking" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976).

The earliest reference in the OED to this use of 'sale' is 1888. What follows is conjecture...
It seems likely that the use of the term is somehat older. Fixed pricing and loss leaders were innovations in provincial retail practice in England in the eighteenth century following the development of fixed place retailing. Later in the century John Wannamaker put prices on every item in his Philadelphia general merchandise store, sparking the fixed-price revolution in the US. Sheriff's Sales (not famous for yielding full value) have certainly been around in the US since the early eighteenth century.
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