mid-14c. "sell in small quantities or parcels," from Old French retaillier "cut back, cut off, pare, clip, reduce, circumcise," from re- "back" (see re-) + taillier "to cut, trim" (see tailor (n.)). Sometimes also "to deal out (information, etc.) in small quantities; hand down by report; recount, tell over again" (1590s). Related: Retailed; retailing.