What Does Flea Market Mean?

Flea Market Meaning

Definition: A place to buy and sell used items.

Typically, flea markets have many different sellers, and they attract a large number of potential buyers. Many items are sold quite cheaply.

Origin of Flea Market

The expression flea market comes from the French expression marche aux puces, which has the literal
meaning market where one acquires fleas.

Some believe that this idiom originated from the fact that the items being sold at the market were both cheap and previously used, contributing to the idea that they might be
unclean or contain fleas.

The first known uses of this phrase in English are from the 1920s, but the French counterpart seems to have been around since the mid to late 1800s.

Examples of Flea Market

flea market name origin This dialogue shows two co-workers having a discussion about how to decorate their offices.

Deanna: Hey, that’s a cute picture frame!

Emily: Thanks! I just bought it.

Deanna: Where did you get it?

Emily: Actually, I got it from the flea market. It was only a dollar!

Deanna: Really? I’ve never been to a flea market. I have been thinking about decorating my office a little. Would you recommend it for something like that?

Emily: Absolutely! There’s a huge selection, and a lot of it is not very good, but there are a few hidden treasures for a low price!

flea market definition In the second example, two teammates are playing baseball.

Billy: I hate these new uniforms.

Angie: I know. They seem extremely old, and they aren’t clean at all.

Billy: They look like they were bought from the flea market.

Angie: You know what? They actually might have been bought there.

Billy: Ugh. I don’t want to wear this anymore.

More Examples

In this Chicago Tribune article, the author explains how a fire tore through a local flea market.

  • “An extra-alarm fire tore through a flea market on the West Side on Tuesday, swallowing cars parked on the collapsing roof and sending thick black smoke through the West Humboldt Park neighborhood.” –Chicago Tribune

In this excerpt, offensive items were removed from being sold.

  • A vendor at a St. Charles flea market has removed a Nazi flag that had been for sale after a picture of it on social media generated complaints. –Chicago Tribune

Summary

A flea market is similar to a bazaar, and it is a place for many sellers to offer second-hand goods for sale or for barter.