The term haberdasher is so old and so beguiling in appearance that there really should be a good story behind it.
We have record of its continuous use through more than six hundred years, back to the early fourteenth century.
John Minsheu, a dictionary compiler of around 1617, derives it from the German, Hab’ Ihr das? “Have you that?” as a shopkeeper might say in showing his wares to a customer.
But, though our word probably crept into English usage as a corrupt version of some alien term, the most likely being the Old French hapertas, “a dealer in furs,” there is no clear account of its source.
However, the original haberdasher sold hats and caps, as well as the notions he now deals in.