Camelô – Etymology

Camelô – Traveling Merchant

The origin of the word is the Arabic khamlat, a name that was given to the rustic commercialized fabrics sold in open-air markets and touted loudly by the merchants, the camelôs of the previous century. At this point, the verb cameloter (to sell trinkets) was popularized in France by the street sellers who chose high-traffic areas to sell their wares. It is the street salesman that sells his kitsch to bemused audiences. With their power of persuasion, many times these true artists, when victorious in their craft, become rich and turn into the owners of their empires. The Brazilian media magnant Sílvio Santos has said he will never forget the teeming Largo da Carioca in Rio de Janeiro where he began his vivid career. – Source (translated by me)

It is important to note that camelôs differ from ambulantes in that the former has a fixed location while the latter is ambulatory.

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  1. Pingback: Where are the street vendors of São Paulo? | Eyes On Brazil

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