busi·​ness ˈbiz-nəs How to pronounce business (audio)
Southern also
ˈbid- How to pronounce business (audio)
often attributive
: a usually commercial or mercantile activity engaged in as a means of livelihood : trade, line
in the restaurant business
: a commercial or sometimes an industrial enterprise
also : such enterprises
the business district
: dealings or transactions especially of an economic nature : patronage
took their business elsewhere
: role, function
how the human mind went about its business of learningH. A. Overstreet
: an immediate task or objective : mission
what is your business here
: a particular field of endeavor
the best in the business
: affair, matter
the whole business got out of hand
business as usual
: personal concern
none of your business
: right
you have no business speaking to me that way
: serious activity requiring time and effort and usually the avoidance of distractions
got down to business
: maximum effort
: 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

: a damaging assault
: a bowel movement
used especially of pets
archaic : purposeful activity : busyness
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.

synonyms see in addition work

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The case is expected to revolve around Biden and his son’s Hunter’s business dealings. Paul Gattis |, al, 12 Sep. 2023 This one is hand-painted, and your purchase supports a small business owner on Etsy. Sarah Wolf Halverson, Better Homes & Gardens, 12 Sep. 2023 Flash flooding in the area swamped cars, homes, and some businesses, as raging waters coursed through streets and yards. Sarah Raza,, 12 Sep. 2023 In addition, workers not partaking in retail shopping in the federal district has deprived businesses of revenue and the city of tax dollars. Breccan F. Thies, Washington Examiner, 12 Sep. 2023 These vendors and small businesses will be selling vintage goods, home decor, art prints, hand pies, kombucha, ceramics, candles and more. Kolbie Peterson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 12 Sep. 2023 In May, the number of trout per mile fell so low in some sections that the Fellins, other guides and outfitters and business owners formed a nonprofit organization called Save Wild Trout and urged Gov. Greg Gianforte to create a task force in the hope of stemming the deepening losses. Jim Robbins, New York Times, 12 Sep. 2023 According to the Austin Police Department, the shooting occurred at a business near The Arboretum, an outdoor shopping center. Tony Plohetski, USA TODAY, 1 Sep. 2023 Two people are dead and one other was wounded in a shooting at a business in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, officials said. Phil Helsel, NBC News, 1 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 10

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

Dictionary Entries Near business

Cite this Entry

“Business.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


busi·​ness ˈbiz-nəs How to pronounce business (audio) -nəz How to pronounce business (audio)
: an activity that takes a major part of the time, attention, or effort of a person or group
: a commercial or industrial activity or organization
: the making, buying, and selling of goods and services
: something to be dealt with : affair, matter
a strange business
: personal concern
none of your business
: right entry 2 sense 2
you had no business saying that

More from Merriam-Webster on business

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!