Deal, in Present-day English, may be one of a number of words. All are pronounced to rhyme with 'feel'.
- There is a very general term of quantity. It is indeterminate, or vague, in amount, but, like 'a lot', it is generally a considerable part. 'A deal of something' usually means a good amount, or 'a great deal'.
- The original sense was of 'a share' of something. Today, players of card games deal the cards, or deal out, to give each player a fair share of the cards being played. The overall distribution is 'a deal'; the player who distributes is the dealer..
- In its general sense ('an amount'), this word can be applied adverbially, with verbs to say that someone 'does something a great deal', or to intensify adverbs and adjectives.
- The most useful idea, perhaps, is that of the verb 'to deal' and its associated noun 'a deal'.
- The verb 'to deal' means 'to negotiate', 'to discuss in order to come to an understanding'; 'to make a [business] arrangement'. In the best sense, it refers to coming to a bargain that is of benefit to both sides; a good sense is "A transaction of an underhand or questionable nature; a private or secret arrangement in commerce or politics entered into by parties for their mutual benefit; a ‘job’" (OED). This can be extended to dealing with business and professional matters: "Please contact XXX, who is dealing with this matter"; "Mrs YYY dealt with the marriage contract". This sometimes has the implication of 'successfully', or 'to a completion'; sometimes it is neutral in its implication, 'was the person who took responsibility for'.
- 'A deal' is such an arrangement, with the implication that it is of benefit to both parties - perhaps especially to one who claims 'to have done a deal'.
- To deal in a commodity is to trade in it - to have dealings in it. So we find dealers in wood, or leather, or horses, etc. (The verb without any Object is informal, and therefore to be avoided in academic English: the implication is nearly always of criminal trade in illegal drugs.
- Dealers may deal with their customers and suppliers. In a slightly figurative sense, we can use deal with of some sort of work of art to mean 'takes as its subject': "Hamlet and Lear deal with the subject of madness". In a disciplinary sense, a teacher may deal with naughty children in school, and police may deal with rioters (often with implications of violence).
- To have a 'raw deal' is to 'make a bad baragain', or to be treated harshly as a result of negotiati0ons; ; a 'square deal' is a fair one.
- Deal is also a word in the timber trade. Here, the general meaning is 'plank of fir or pine, of certain sizes'. (The precise sizes change with context, and are different in America and Britain.)
- The New Deal is the name for the overall policy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States (in office 1933-1945) to deal with the effects of the Great Depression of the 1930s. (For an historical sketch, including further reading, see Wikipedia: [].)
You may also want to see deal (irregular verb)