The stock market refers to the collection of markets and exchanges where regular activities of buying, selling, and issuance of shares of publicly-held companies take place. Such financial activities are conducted through institutionalized formal exchanges(highly regulated) or over-the-counter (OTC) marketplaces(less regulated) which operate under a defined set of regulations. There can be multiple stock trading venues in a country or a region which allow transactions in stocks and other forms of securities.
Stock market and stock exchange are used interchangeably many times , Stock exchange is part of stock market where ‘exchange’ of stocks happen. If one says that she trades in the stock market, it means that she buys and sells shares/equities on one (or more) of the stock exchanges like Nifty/Sensex/Dow jones etc that are part of the stock market. The leading stock exchanges in the India is National stock Exchange (NIFTY) and in U.S. , it is the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
Stock market is also sometimes called equity market or capital markets and is primarily known for trading stocks/equities . But other financial instruments – like exchange traded funds (ETF’s), bonds and derivatives based on stocks, commodities, currencies are also traded in the stock markets.
To start Investing in stock market , read “How to start investing in stock market”