en·​tre·​pre·​neur ˌän-trə-p(r)ə-ˈnər How to pronounce entrepreneur (audio)
: one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise
-ˈn(y)u̇r- How to pronounce entrepreneur (audio)

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The Characteristics of an Entrepreneur

You might well wonder whether entrepreneur simply means “a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money” or whether it carries an additional connotation of far-sightedness and innovation. The answer, perhaps unsatisfyingly, is that it can go in either direction.

Entrepreneur has been used in English to refer to a kind of businessman since at least the middle of the 18th century, when it appeared in translation of the King of Prussia’s instructions for his generals (“. . . if the country happens not to abound in forage, you must agree with some Entrepreneur for the quantity required.”). During the 19th century, it was also used of a go-between or a person who undertakes any kind of activity (as opposed to just a business).

By the early 20th century entrepreneur appears to have taken on the connotation of go-getter when applied to an independent business owner, a quality that may also be found in the phrase entrepreneurial spirit, which began being used at about the same time.

Examples of entrepreneur in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web A couple of Galveston entrepreneurs in 1897 organized a second league whose six founding members did not include a Fort Worth team, probably because one of the requirements was that clubs own their own ballparks. Richard Selcer, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 8 June 2024 And while Northern California tech entrepreneurs overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates, a small but powerful group of defectors has moved rightward in recent years. Anabel Sosa, Los Angeles Times, 8 June 2024 This is particularly distressing since research shows creative hobbies can help improve the mental health of stress-laden entrepreneurs. Jasmine Browley, Essence, 7 June 2024 In 2011, a group of climate-conscious entrepreneurs, legal scholars, and scientists decided to fight back, creating the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund to protect climate scientists from threats and censorship. Stephanie Hanes, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for entrepreneur 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'entrepreneur.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French, from Old French, from entreprendre to undertake — more at enterprise

First Known Use

1762, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of entrepreneur was in 1762

Dictionary Entries Near entrepreneur

Cite this Entry

“Entrepreneur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entrepreneur. Accessed 12 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


en·​tre·​pre·​neur ˌän-trə-p(r)ə-ˈnər How to pronounce entrepreneur (audio)
: one who organizes, manages, and takes on the risks of a business or enterprise
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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