Some dictionaries use this perculiar construction 'of or for' to define certain words, mostly adjectives. Here's a few examples from the Cambridge dictionary:

  • wholesale: of or for the selling of goods in large amounts at low prices
  • start-up: of or for a new business venture
  • primary: of or for the teaching of young children

I'm okay with the use of 'of' (supposedly in the sense of 'relating to'), but I fail to parse the 'for' in any of these. What exactly is its role here? Maybe it makes use of some obscure meaning of 'for' I'm not familiar with? Maybe some words are ommited for brevity, like 'used for' or 'for descriptions of'? The phrase "... for the selling of goods in large amounts" as is just doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

1 Answer 1


It means that the word "primary" can mean "for the teaching of young children"

For example, you can talk about "A primary school". This is a school for the teaching of young children. This is not an obscure sense of "for", it is the standard meaning which indicates the purpose of the school.

Similarly, you might describe the purpose of a "wholesale store" as "a store for the selling of goods in large amounts but at low prices."

The preposition "of" indicates a more general "related" sense

  • I haven't looked at it at quite this angle for some reason. Thanks!
    – Atas
    Dec 21, 2021 at 10:31

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