If you make a deal with your brother to change the oil in his car in exchange for one of his video games, what you’ve just done is barter — or trade goods and services.

Before money was invented, people traded goods and services in order to acquire the things they needed. An individual might trade, for example, a cow in exchange for help building a shed, or a dozen eggs in exchange for several yards of cloth. To this day people continue to barter for goods and services although this method of commerce is no longer widespread. The verb barter has survived into modern times to refer to making a transaction that involves the exchange of goods or services rather than money.

Definitions of barter

v exchange goods without involving money

Type of:
change, exchange, interchange
give to, and receive from, one another

n an equal exchange

“we had no money so we had to live by barter
swap, swop, trade
horse trade, horse trading
the swapping of horses (accompanied by much bargaining)
Type of:
exchange, interchange
reciprocal transfer of equivalent sums of money (especially the currencies of different countries)

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.