STAPLE, n. [G., a stake, a pile or heap, a staple, stocks, a mart. The primary sense of the root is to set, to fix. Staple is that which is fixed, or a fixed place, or it is a pile or store.]

1. A settled mart or market; an emporium. In England, formerly, the kings staple was established in certain ports or towns, and certain goods could not be exported, without being first brought to these ports to be rated and charged with the duty payable to the king or public. The principal commodities on which customs were levied, were wool, skins and lether, and these were originally the staple commodities. Hence the words staple commodities, came in time to signify the principal commodities produced by a country for exportation or use. Thus cotton is the staple commodity of South Carolina, Georgia and other southern states of America. Wheat is the staple of Pennsylvania and New York.

2. A city or town where merchants agree to carry certain commodities.

3. The thread or pile of wool, cotton or flax. Thus we say, this is wool of a coarse staple, or fine staple. In America, cotton is of a short staple, long staple, fine staple, &c. The cotton of short staple is raised on the upland; the sea-island cotton is of a fine long staple.

4. A loop of iron, or a bar or wire bent and formed with two points to be driven into wood, to hold a hook, pin, &c.

Staple of land, the particular nature and quality of land.


1. Settled; established in commerce; as a staple trade.

2. According to the laws of commerce; marketable; fit to be sold. [Not much used.]

3. Chief; principal; regularly produced or made for market; as staple commodities. [This is now the most general acceptation of the word.]