en·​tre·​pre·​neur | \ ˌän-trə-p(r)ə-ˈnər How to pronounce entrepreneur (audio) , -ˈn(y)u̇r, ˌäⁿn- \

Essential Meaning of entrepreneur

: a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money

Full Definition of entrepreneur

: one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise

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Other Words from entrepreneur

entrepreneurship \ ˌän-​trə-​p(r)ə-​ˈnər-​ˌship , -​ˈn(y)u̇r-​ How to pronounce entrepreneur (audio) , ˌäⁿn-​ \ noun

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 in 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 Our culture tends to celebrate the brash entrepreneur who takes risks and disrupts incumbent companies. Tendayi Viki, Forbes, 4 Oct. 2021 The 20-something entrepreneur subsequently created, and simultaneously ran, a dating site, an online legal-services company, an advertising network—and Shutterstock. Joann S. Lublin, WSJ, 2 Oct. 2021 The entrepreneur’s eternal optimism was tested from the start, with the company twice running out of money and losing its headquarters to a fire, all before the first flight departed. Staff Reporters, The Arizona Republic, 1 Oct. 2021 The savvy entrepreneur knew yachting could be for anyone with the means to enjoy it. Kimberly Wilson, Essence, 29 Sep. 2021 Further, the skincare entrepreneur is calling for an end to single-use beauty packaging. Jessica Ourisman, Harper's BAZAAR, 29 Sep. 2021 Meanwhile, Sheeran’s tribute to the late Australian music entrepreneur Michael Gudinski is set for a return to the Top 20, lifting 21-16 on the chart blast. Lars Brandle, Billboard, 27 Sep. 2021 Donning a mix of Amiri and Saint Laurent (Gebbia’s go-to label), there are no questions as to why the entrepreneur found a home within the Mr Porter family. Isiah Magsino, Vogue, 24 Sep. 2021 Then the entrepreneur was married twice to actor Talulah Riley. Los Angeles Times, 24 Sep. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'entrepreneur.' 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 entrepreneur

1762, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for entrepreneur

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

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The first known use of entrepreneur was in 1762

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Last Updated

12 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Entrepreneur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entrepreneur. Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.

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