Window shopping

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Window shopping is an idiom that has been in use since the 1800s, though the activity has been enjoyed since seventeenth century. We will examine the meaning of the common saying window shopping, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Window shopping is a recreational activity that involves looking in store windows or showcases for fun, without any intent of buying what one is examining. Window shopping, as an activity, came into being in the seventeenth century with the rise of the middle class in Europe. Merchants installed clear glass in their storefronts and displayed goods in these windows to entice customers. The term window shopping came into use around 1870. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, window shopping should be rendered as two, separate words. However, the expression is often rendered with a hyphen, as in window-shopping. Window shopping is a noun, the verb forms are window shop, window shops, window shopped, window shopping. One who indulges in the recreation is a window shopper.


Two black bears were caught on video exploring an outdoor Tennessee mall, perhaps searching for food but also doing some window-shopping and enjoying the holiday décor. (The New York Daily News)

Police in Florida responded to a shopping center to apprehend an alligator spotted doing some afternoon window shopping. (UPI)

A “magic mirror” in the window of Edel-Optics flagship store on Hamburg’s Ballindamm takes an image of the window-shopper and projects a pair of glasses onto the customer’s face. (Hamburg News)

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