Meaning of EXCHANGE in English


I. iksˈchānj, eksˈch also ˈeksˌch- noun

Usage: often attributive

Etymology: Middle English eschaunge, exchaunge, from Middle French eschange, from eschangier

1. : the act of giving or taking one thing in return for another as if equivalent: as

a. : the restoration to their fellows of persons captured during military action usually by each contesting side in equivalent numbers

b. : the process of reciprocal transfer of ownership (as between persons) : trade , barter ; broadly : a complex of transactions that results in the actual interchange of goods and services (as among primitive peoples) even though any one transfer may be widely separated in space and time from another and may take place under the guise of presenting gifts or in consequence of traditional ceremonies — compare kula

c. : a mutual grant under the law of equal interests one being in consideration of the other

d. : reciprocal transfer (as of military or naval commissions) between individuals usually with some added gratuity to the individual accepting the less desirable


a. : the act of substituting one thing in the place of another

the gradual exchange of her grief for quiet peace

the startling transformation wrought by the exchange of his rags for royal raiment

b. : reciprocal giving and receiving (as of courtesies, blows, or words)

c. : a mutual capture of men in chess or checkers

d. : reciprocal interchange of sisters or daughters whereby two men in certain primitive societies obtain wives for themselves or for their brothers or sons

the custom of marriage by exchange

e. : a chemical reaction or process in which one atom, ion, or group changes places with another

isotopic exchange

— see ion exchange ; compare double decomposition , substitution 1d

3. : something offered, given, or received in an exchange (as goods, blows, or words): as

a. : a usually brief and often heated, acrid, or witty dialogue

b. : a publication (as a periodical) given (as by a publisher or author) in return for another publication ; also : an item or article reprinted from a newspaper


a. : funds (as drafts, checks, or bills of exchange) payable currently at a distant point either in (1) a foreign currency or (2) in domestic currency — called also respectively (1) foreign exchange, (2) domestic exchange

b. : the amount paid for the collection (as of a draft, bill of exchange, or check drawn in one place upon another)


(1) : interchange or conversion of the money of two countries or of current and uncurrent money with allowance for difference in value

(2) : rate of exchange

(3) : the amount of the difference in value between two currencies or between values at two places — compare arbitrage

d. exchanges plural : the items (as drafts, checks) that are presented in a clearinghouse for settlement by mutual interchange of credits and debits and payment of balances

5. : a place where things or services are exchanged: as

a. obsolete : a money changer's place of business

b. : a place devoted to the transaction (as between merchants, bankers, and brokers) of business usually at the professional level — often used in combination

the grain exchange

a southern stock exchange

c. : an organized market or center for trading in certain commodities at wholesale or on contracts calling for future delivery

a produce exchange

d. : a store or shop where merchandise usually of a particular type is bought, resold, or repaired

a typewriter exchange

e. : a cooperative store or society

a farmers' exchange

f. archaic : barroom , saloon

g. : telephone exchange

h. : post exchange

- in exchange

II. verb

Etymology: Middle English eschaungen, from Middle French eschangier, from (assumed) Vulgar Latin excambiare, from Latin ex- ex- (I) + cambiare to exchange — more at change

transitive verb


a. : to part with, give, or transfer in consideration of something received as an equivalent

the boy exchanged his mother's cow for a handful of beans

b. : to supply (something else) in place of goods returned

do you think the store will exchange something more up-to-date for the high shoes my aunt bought?

also : to have (goods returned to the seller) replaced by other merchandise

I'm sure you can exchange the blouse but probably not return it for a refund

2. : to part with for a substitute

exchanging future security for immediate enjoyment

: to lay aside, quit, or resign (something presently possessed) in return for some alternate

exchanged his youth and health for the burdens of wealth

who would not exchange loneliness for happy companionship?

3. : to give and receive reciprocally (as things of the same kind) : barter , swap

let's exchange hats

I would exchange horses if you had a better horse

if she could exchange natures with her brother

exchanging heated words and finally blows

4. obsolete : alter , change

intransitive verb

1. : to pass or be received in exchange — used with for

when the pound exchanges for less than $3

2. : to engage in an exchange especially of a commission or appointment

anxious to exchange out of that provincial regiment

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.