noun, often attributive
busi·ness | \ˈbiz-nəs, -nəz, Southern also ˈbid- \

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

b : rebuke, tongue-lashing

c : double cross

9 : a bowel movement used especially of pets

10 archaic : purposeful activity : busyness

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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.

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In April, amid rising trade tensions between the United States and China, the Commerce Department barred ZTE’s American suppliers from doing business with the company for failing to rectify the sanctions issue. Claire Ballentine, New York Times, "U.S. Lifts Ban That Kept ZTE From Doing Business With American Suppliers," 13 July 2018 As President Trump escalates what could become a damaging and protracted trade war with China, many in the U.S. movie business are beginning to wonder whether Hollywood might soon get drawn into the fray. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, "Will Hollywood Get Caught in Trump's China Trade War Crossfire?," 13 July 2018 In other business, the council also approved the relocation of a traffic signal box at the intersection of Townsen Boulevard and Spring Creek Crossing. Kaila Contreras, Houston Chronicle, "Humble approves Safe Clear towing program at Thursday’s council meeting," 13 July 2018 Connoils, which has been in business for 11 years, currently has 23 employees. Bob Dohr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Connoils, manufacturer of hemp and other oils, to move from the town of Waukesha to Big Bend," 13 July 2018 Universities are in the education business, and the young adults who attend don’t always make good decisions. Annie Martin,, "New UCF police chief talks about preventing shootings, sex crimes," 13 July 2018 Expect a sea change in the Latin music business as women both on and offstage assume leadership roles and fight back against an industry that is legendary for sexism. Jessica Lipsky, Billboard, "Latin Women Take The Reins: Insights From the Latin Alternative Music Conference," 13 July 2018 Stardom in the music business is fleeting to put it kindly. The Aegis, "Wishing on a star [Editorial]," 13 July 2018 That should be a relief to global companies doing business here. Alan Murray, Fortune, "Trump and NATO, Papa John's Out, Broadcom Buys CA: CEO Daily for July 12, 2018," 12 July 2018

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

7 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for business

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

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More Definitions for business



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.


busi·ness | \ˈbiz-nəs \

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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