business

noun, often attributive
busi·​ness | \ ˈbiz-nəs How to pronounce business (audio) , -nəz, Southern also ˈbid- How to pronounce business (audio) \

Definition of business

1a : a usually commercial or mercantile activity engaged in as a means of livelihood : trade, line in the restaurant business
b : a commercial or sometimes an industrial enterprise also : such enterprises the business district
c : dealings or transactions especially of an economic nature : patronage took their business elsewhere
2a : role, function how the human mind went about its business of learning— H. A. Overstreet
b : an immediate task or objective : mission what is your business here
c : a particular field of endeavor the best in the business
3 : affair, matter the whole business got out of hand business as usual
4a : personal concern none of your business
b : right you have no business speaking to me that way
5a : serious activity requiring time and effort and usually the avoidance of distractions got down to business
b : maximum effort
7 : movement or action (such as lighting a cigarette) by an actor intended especially to establish atmosphere, reveal character, or explain a situation

called also stage business

8a : a damaging assault
9 : a bowel movement used especially of pets
10 archaic : purposeful activity : busyness

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Synonyms for business

Synonyms

custom, patronage

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Choose the Right Synonym for business

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.

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Examples of business in a Sentence

Forever Odd is a direct sequel to 2003's Odd Thomas, the book in which we were introduced to the title character, a young man who can see the dead. They can't talk to him, but they can nudge him in the direction they want, which is usually to help them tidy up some unfinished business from when they were alive. — Charles De Lint, Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 2006 The Sun may never set, but air temperatures can plummet to -4 degrees Fahrenheit, and blinding snowstorms appear without warning. Sunbathing here can be risky business: even huddled in our parkas and boots, the members of our expedition live under the constant threat of frostbite and hypothermia. — Terrie M. Williams, Natural History, October 2003 Such high attrition means that most of the dot-coms here today will be gone tomorrow. The business environment is already harsh, and competition is growing. — Ann Thayer, Chemical & Engineering News, 5 June 2000 Lancaster and Columbia have plenty of history apart from the Civil War, of course. For example, Lancaster was home to F. W. Woolworth's first successful 5&10 and Milton S. Hershey's first successful candy business. Lancaster New Era, 2 July 1996 The store has lost a significant amount of business since the factory closed. She works in the publishing business. David has decided to go into business with his brother. Their publishing company is the best in the business. I have to go to New York City on business next week. They advertised to increase business. He has the skills necessary to run a business. The town is trying to attract new businesses. Do we have any other business we need to discuss? No, I didn't ask him what he wanted the car for. That's his business.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Local governments should be improving transportation to get people easier access to the closest supermarkets, and changing the tough zoning codes and taxes that keep businesses away from the area. Jessica Booth, Redbook, "Everything You Need To Know About Food Deserts," 29 Apr. 2019 Apparently, in their divorce settlement, neither one of them can make any changes to the business without the other one's consent. Michelle Manetti, Good Housekeeping, "Matt and Amy Roloff Dropped 4 Bombshells During the 'Little People, Big World' Premiere," 3 Apr. 2019 That should give a nice extra kick to a business which is already sold on Net-a-Porter and Luisa Via Roma. Sarah Mower, Vogue, "Fashion Trust Arabia Spotlights the Visionary Fashion Voices of the Middle East and North Africa," 1 Apr. 2019 Now, these partnerships are first and foremost a canny business move. Glamour, "At Long Last, Fashion Is Making Cool Merch for Fandoms," 19 Apr. 2019 The invasive fish are scaring away tourists and threatening recreational fishing businesses, since most anglers seek crappies... Cameron Mcwhirter, WSJ, "Carp Attack: Fight Against Invasive Fish Heads South," 19 Apr. 2019 Robert Mitchum follows as the smarmy billionaire bachelor who treats the isle of Manhattan as his business headquarters. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "An Ode to the Campiest Film You’ve Probably Never Seen," 19 Apr. 2019 Despite official opposition, CBD businesses do operate across the state. Meredith Clark, Marie Claire, "Is CBD Even Legal Where You Live?," 12 Apr. 2019 For Jared Paul Stern, who at the time was second banana at the Post’s influential Page Six column, the ancillary business was fashion design. Ben Widdicombe, Town & Country, "Why It Makes Perfect Sense That Billionaire Ron Burkle Would Buy The Enquirer," 11 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'business.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of business

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 10

History and Etymology for business

Middle English bisynesse, from bisy busy + -nesse -ness

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Statistics for business

Last Updated

6 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for business

The first known use of business was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for business

business

noun

English Language Learners Definition of business

: the activity of making, buying, or selling goods or providing services in exchange for money
: work that is part of a job
: the amount of activity that is done by a store, company, factory, etc.

business

noun
busi·​ness | \ ˈbiz-nəs How to pronounce business (audio) \

Kids Definition of business

1 : the activity of making, buying, and selling goods or services We're open for business.
2 : a commercial enterprise She's starting a new business.
3 : the normal activity of a person or group Learning is the business of a student.
4 : personal concerns It's none of your business.
5 : matter entry 1 sense 1 Cleaning up the mess was an unpleasant business.

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More from Merriam-Webster on business

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for business

Spanish Central: Translation of business

Nglish: Translation of business for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of business for Arabic Speakers

Comments on business

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