Definition: Pharmacy

From New World Encyclopedia


From Middle English pharmacy, borrowed from Middle French pharmacie (the art of creating drugs; a drug, especially a laxative), from Old French farmacie, from Medieval Latin pharmacia, from Ancient Greek φαρμακεία or pharmakeía (the use of drugs), from φάρμακον or phármakon (a drug, charm, enchantment), of uncertain but likely Pre-Greek origin. Attested since late fourteenth century.


pharmacy (countable and uncountable, plural pharmacies)

  1. A place where prescription drugs are sold or dispensed.
  2. The science of medicinal substances, inclusive of pharmaceutics, pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmacology, phytochemistry, and forensics.
  3. The role or occupation of a pharmacist.

Usage notes

The American "drugstore" and British and Commonwealth "chemist's" are more common when referencing a small shop, especially when it is run as a general store that sells food and other goods as well as medicines. The pharmacies operated within hospitals that dispense medicine without acting as a point of sale are sometimes distinguished as dispensaries.

Derived terms

  • compounding pharmacy
  • megapharmacy
  • retail pharmacy

Related terms


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