Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Goods Definition:

A chattel which is, generally, subject to sale.

Related Terms: Chattel, Personal Property, Movable

In Entreprises Kato, Justice Marceau wrote:

"The ordinary and accepted meaning of the (French) word marchandise (goods) is that of items circulated on the commercial market intended for sale."

Bryne adds that:

"In practice, however, the term goods is confined to those chattels which are capable of manual delivery, such as furniture and merchandise."

Indeed, the term goods now resides squarely in the domain of statute law. Thus, in a maritime law case, The Noordam, Justice Sumner of the British House of Lords remarked that:

"The content of the word goods differs greatly according to the context in which it is used and the instrument in which it occurs."

For example, the US Uniform Commercial Code §2-103(1)(k) defines goods as:

"Goods means all things that are movable at the time of identification to a contract for sale. The term includes future goods, specially manufactured goods, the unborn young of animals, growing crops, and other identified things attached to realty .... The term does not include information, the money in which the price is to be paid, investment securities ..., the subject matter of foreign exchange transactions, or choses in action."

Some statutes define goods to include ships, aircraft and electricity where others include, rather than exclude, money and real property such as buildings and structures.

The common law definition of goods, according to Coke,  is "chattels as well reall as personall".

The English Trading Stamps Act 1964 defines goods as:

"Goods includes vehicles, vessels, aircraft and animals, and generally includes articles and property of any description."

The Sale of Goods Act of the Canadian province of Ontario defines the words as:

"Goods means all chattels personal, other than things in action and money, and includes emblements, industrial growing crops, and things attached to or forming part of the land that are agreed to be severed before sale or under the contract of sale."


  • Entreprises Kato v Deputy Minister of National Revenue 1984 1 Federal Court (FC) 825
  • Guest, A., and others, Benjamin's Sale of Goods (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1981).
  • Sale of Goods Act, revised Statutes of Ontario 1990, Chapter S-1
  • The Noordam 1920 Appeal Cases (AC) 904
  • Trading Stamps Act 1964, Chapter 71
  • US Uniform Commercial Code

Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!