Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun, in·dus·try \ˈin-(ˌ)dəs-trē\

Simple Definition of industry

  • : the process of making products by using machinery and factories

  • : a group of businesses that provide a particular product or service

  • : the habit of working hard and steadily

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of industry

plural industries

  1. 1 :  diligence in an employment or pursuit; especially :  steady or habitual effort

  2. 2 a :  systematic labor especially for some useful purpose or the creation of something of value b :  a department or branch of a craft, art, business, or manufacture; especially :  one that employs a large personnel and capital especially in manufacturing c :  a distinct group of productive or profit-making enterprises <the banking industry> d :  manufacturing activity as a whole <the nation's industry>

  3. 3 :  work devoted to the study of a particular subject or author <the Shakespeare industry>

Examples of industry in a sentence

  1. He favors policies that promote industry.

  2. She invested in several large industries.

  3. She became so popular that a whole industry grew up around her and her image.

Origin of industry

Middle English (Scots) industrie, from Middle French, from Latin industria, from industrius diligent, from Old Latin indostruus, perhaps from indu in + -struus (akin to Latin struere to build) — more at end-, strew

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of industry

business, commerce, trade, industry, traffic mean activity concerned with the supplying and distribution of commodities. business may be an inclusive term but specifically designates the activities of those engaged in the purchase or sale of commodities or in related financial transactions. commerce and trade imply the exchange and transportation of commodities. industry applies to the producing of commodities, especially by manufacturing or processing, usually on a large scale. traffic applies to the operation and functioning of public carriers of goods and persons.

INDUSTRY Defined for Kids


noun in·dus·try \ˈin-də-strē\

Definition of industry for Students

plural industries

  1. 1 :  businesses that provide a certain product or service <the oil industry> <the shipping industry>

  2. 2 :  manufacturing activity <In May, industry slowed down.>

  3. 3 :  the habit of working hard and steadily <Rab did not immediately spring into action to make a good show of his industry before his master. — Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up industry? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to expose to danger or risk

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

disapprove reduce perplex soothe
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.