I recently purchased a book published in 1826 in New York City that has an old handwritten inscription inside the front cover which reads as follows (the names have been changed for clarity):

Dr John Smith book bought of Mr James Jones

I am trying to figure out when the exchange may have taken place, so I am wondering when the phrase "bought of" fell into disuse in favor of "bought from" and "purchased from" commonly used today.

1 Answer 1


Welcome to EL&U, Andy. Google provide a useful tool called the Ngram Viewer which is excellent for answering questions like this, although it has to be used with care and can only deal with printed material so can't say anything about the prevalence of a word or phrase in spoken English.

I ran an Ngram search for 'bought of' compared to 'bought from', 'purchased of' and 'purchased from' for the time period 1600 to 2019 the results of which are here

If you follow the link it seems that 'bought from' was more common initially, that 'bought of' overtook it in the 17th century but that the use of 'purchased of', 'purchased from' and 'bought from' increased during the late 18th and 19th centuries while 'bought of' decreased during the late 19th century. In the late 19th century, the 20th century and the 21st century 'purchased from' has been dominant and 'bought from' has become more common until these days 'bought of' and 'purchased of' have just about disappeared.

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