A commissary is someone delegated by a superior to execute a duty or an office; in a formal, legal context, one who has received power from a legitimate superior authority to pass judgment in a certain cause or to take information concerning it.
The word is recorded in English since 1362, for "one to whom special duty is entrusted by a higher power". This Anglo-French word derives from Medieval Latin commissarius, from Latin commissus (pp. of committere) "entrusted,".
In the United States armed forces and prisons, as well as the United Nations, it has the derived meaning of a store for provisions, with the original military meaning referring to an officer or official responsible for food, stores, or transport for a body of soldiers. The United States Defense Commissary Agency operates commissaries that are similar to supermarkets, providing service members with most of the same available in the United States regardless of where they are stationed abroad. Commissaries sell primarily grocery articles; other items can be purchased at a base exchange (BX) or post exchange (PX). In Chicago, small convenience stores located in ground floor retail spaces of high rise buildings are also known as commissaries.
Sources and references
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 
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