grocery store in American English


Many dictionaries say "grocery store" means "supermarket" in American English. I'd like to verify if that's the case. Could this term refer to a shop that is not so big as a supermarket, somewhat like a general store?


Posted 2019-08-09T23:43:08.837

Reputation: 3 120

Question was closed 2019-08-10T01:53:51.510

What kind of research is needed? There are plenty other posts that don't include any research at all. – Apollyon – 2019-08-10T02:14:47.007



A "grocery store" can be any store where a variety of foodstuffs and related items are sold. It can be a "supermarket" or a smaller, more specialized store.

Today, in the US, most people buy most of their groceries in "supermarkets" or something similar -- large, multi-department stores selling meat, fish, produce, canned goods, dry goods such as pasta and flour, dairy products , and various other kinds of food products, and some non-food products such as cleaning supplies, magazines, vitamins, "health and beauty" products, etc.

A "grocery story" could mean this, or a store that only sells foodstuffs, and only a limited selection of those. The term "grocery store" would usually not be used for a store that sold only a single type of food, such as a specialty fish store, a wine store, or a NY style delicatessen. It might be used for a small, limited purpose store such as a food co-op.

When a person says "grocery store" without qualification, many speakers of US English think first of a "supermarket". 75 to 100 years ago this would not have been the case.

David Siegel

Posted 2019-08-09T23:43:08.837

Reputation: 17 300

Can "grocery store" refer to the kind of quaint-looking Asian store that sells foodstuffs and and is much less modern than a supermarket? – Apollyon – 2019-08-10T00:07:03.707

2@Apollyon If you mean the kind of store that sells a number of different kinds of food, but largely aimed at Asian customers, or at people trying to do more or less authentic Asian cooking, yes. I have heard these called "Asian markets" and "Asian grocery stores". I have seen similar stores featuring Italian and South American cuisine, and might use the term "grocery store" for any of them. But If I use the term without qualification or explanation i may well be misunderstood at first. – David Siegel – 2019-08-10T00:17:53.497