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Meaning of “over the counter” in the English Dictionary

"over the counter" in British English

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over the counter

Drugs that are bought over the counter are bought in a shop without first visiting a doctor: You can buy most cold remedies over the counter. [before noun] over-the-counter medicines

over-the-counteradjective

uk   /ˌəʊ.və.ðəˈkaʊn.tər/  us   /ˌoʊ.vɚ.ðəˈkaʊn.tɚ/
  • over-the-counter adjective (SHARES)

specialized finance & economics used to describe shares that are traded directly between dealers (= people and organizations that buy and sell for others), rather than on a stock market: Brokers can use the system to look up prices or enter quotes for over-the-counter securities.
over the counter
adverb uk   us  
You can buy most cold remedies over the counter.
(Definition of over the counter from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"over-the-counter" in American English

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over-the-counteradjective [not gradable]

 us   /ˈoʊ·vər·ðəˈkɑʊn·tər/
(of drugs) legally sold without a prescription (= special written instruction from a doctor): The painkiller is available as an over-the-counter drug.
(Definition of over-the-counter from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"over-the-counter" in Business English

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over-the-counteradjective

uk   us   /ˌəʊvəðəˈkaʊntər/ ( abbreviation OTC)
FINANCE, STOCK MARKET used to describe shares that are bought and sold directly using a computer system, rather than on a stock market: over-the-counter shares/securities/options Brokers can use the system to look up prices or enter quotes for over-the-counter securities. Over-the-counter trading of Malaysian issues continued to be active.
COMMERCE available to buy from a store without a prescription (= written instruction from a doctor): over-the-counter drug/medicine/product Strong sales of prescription and over-the-counter drugs helped boost the company's profits.
(Definition of over-the-counter from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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“over the counter” in Business English

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