In an oligopoly, a few powerful merchants or companies control the entire market. If you and three friends buy up all the toilet paper factories in the world, you will have a toilet paper oligopoly.

Oligopoly comes from the ancient Greek oligo-, for "few," and pole, for "merchant," but the term wasn't invented until the late 19th century. In an economic oligopoly, only a few producers control the supply of something (like steel, cars, or clown suits), and each one has a lot of influence over prices. Oligopoly might remind you of monopoly, which is when a single producer controls the whole market.

Definitions of oligopoly

n (economics) a market in which control over the supply of a commodity is in the hands of a small number of producers and each one can influence prices and affect competitors

Type of:
market, market place, marketplace
the world of commercial activity where goods and services are bought and sold

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