Does anyone recognize "vittler" as "one who supplies vittles or food"? I've checked home and online dictionaries.

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    The word you're looking for is victualler, pronounced "vittle-er". Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 18:19
  • Also, you should note that the sense you're asking about is quite dated and old-fashioned. At least I've only ever heard it used about people who sell alcohol, not people who supply victuals. A vessel can be well-victualled, and I suppose whoever brings the stuff on board would then be the victualler… but I've never heard anyone actually say that. Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 18:30
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    My grandfather was a ships' victualler until WWII and the nationalization of the Grimsby docks.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 2:29

1 Answer 1


The OED turns up vittler as one of various rejected spellings of victualler or victualer (others range from vytaylour to wytteller to vetuler).

The word victual referring to food or other provisions comes to English from the Norman French vitaile, from medieval Latin victualis. The spelling was later standardized closer to the Latin (both in English and in French— victuaille), hence the disconnect between the word's appearance and its longstanding pronunciation.

I would not say it is in common usage anywhere, and it survives mostly as a legal, military, or historical term.

In the United Kingdom the term licensed victualler refers to a merchant who is legally authorized to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises— otherwise commonly known as a publican. Although the term persists in parts of the U.S. (Boston, for one), its prevalence is low and in decline. Most of the hits in BNC refer to this use of victualler— there are no results, under either standard spelling, in COCA.

The OED notes that in Ireland, victualler may also refer to a butcher. Butcher seems to be far more common, but the butchers' association in Dublin was known as the Dublin Master Victualler's Association, and now a handful of "craft butcher" establishments in the U.S. have taken up the term, to smother Brooklyn in charcuterie more obscurely.

In the navy, a victualler was a supply ship, or the officer in charge of delivering supplies to the receiving ship's purser. And in historical terms, it could be applied to any supplier of goods, stores, or other victuals, though in the U.S. I am more familiar with the term sutler.

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