Home > C Words > commodity


Definition of Commodity

(noun) Anything that people find, grow, or make that is then bought, sold, or traded and then typically made into a good to satisfy wants or needs.

Examples of Commodity

  • Gold that is turned into jewelry.
  • Potatoes that are cleaned, peeled, sliced, and cooked into chips.

Commodity Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: com·mod·i·ty

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /kuh-mAHd-uh-tee/
  • British English – /kuh-mOd-i-tee/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /kəˈmɑdədi/
  • British English – /kəˈmɒdᵻti/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: commodities
  • The terms commodity and good are often used interchangeably, but since commodities can be sold as is they are often used as raw materials to build goods.
  • A commodity chain is a network linking all actors in production of commodities, such as labor from workers, transport, and the final customer.
  • Changing something that was not a commodity into a commodity is called commodification.
  • Also called:
    • primary product
    • raw material
    • trade good

Related Quotations

  • Capitalist production requires exchange relations, commodities, and money, but its differentia specified is the purchase and sale of labour power. For this purpose, three basic conditions must become generalized throughout society. First, workers are separated from the means with which production is carried on, and can gain access to them only by selling their labour power to others. Second, workers are freed of legal constraints, such as serfdom or slavery, that prevent them from disposing of their own labour power. Third, the purpose of the employment of the worker becomes the expansion of a unit of capital belonging to the employer, who is thus functioning as a capitalist. The labour process therefore begins with a contract or agreement governing the conditions of the sale of labour power by the worker and its purchase by the employer. It is important to take note of the historical character of this phenomenon. While the purchase and sale of labour power has existed from antiquity, a substantial class of wage-workers did not begin to form in Europe until the fourteenth century, and did not become numerically significant until the rise of industrial capitalism (that is the production of commodities on a capitalist basis, as against mercantile capitalism, which merely exchanged the surplus products of prior forms of production) in the eighteenth century” (Braverman 1974:52).
  • “While youth and vitality are highly valued commodities in a postindustrial society, life expectancies and prospects for good health are extended. Consequently, people can be expected to work longer if they choose. Moreover, with less emphasis on work and more on service and play, postindustrial societies may offer the elderly a vast array of meaningful social roles outside the world of work” (Thompson and Hickey 2012:339).

Additional Information

Related Terms


Braverman, Harry. 1974. Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Thompson, William E., and Joseph V. Hickey. 2012. Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Works Consulted

Black, John, Nigar Hashimzade and Gareth Myles. 2010. A Dictionary of Economics. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Bruce, Steve, and Steven Yearley. 2006. The SAGE Dictionary of Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Chase-Dunn, Christopher, and Bruce Lerro. 2014. Social Change: Globalization from the Stone Age to the Present. New York: Routledge.

Law, Jonathan, ed. 2010. A Dictionary of Accounting. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Princeton University. 2010. WordNet. (https://wordnet.princeton.edu/).

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

Cite the Definition of Commodity

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “commodity.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved April 17, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/commodity/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

commodity. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/commodity/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “commodity.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed April 17, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/commodity/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“commodity.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/commodity/>.