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.

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 /ˌəʊvəðəˈkaʊntər/ us 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)