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 Leaders, managers, entrepreneurs and policymakers must adapt to rapidly changing conditions, requiring flexibility, creativity and strategic planning skills. Edyta Kwiatkowska, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 Last month, however, Allen was shepherding around cannabis entrepreneurs looking at similar-sized properties for around $5 million. Peter Hecht, Sacramento Bee, 21 Feb. 2024 During the early-2000s internet boom, entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to bring these defensive publications, or dpubs, to databases online. Paresh Dave, WIRED, 20 Feb. 2024 Later, in 2023, the Kylie Cosmetics and Kylie Skin entrepreneur began dating actor Timothée Chalamet, with their relationship confirmed by their first public appearance as a couple at Beyoncé's Renaissance World Tour. People Staff, Peoplemag, 20 Feb. 2024 Roberts’s philosophy degree is actually a masters—his undergraduate degree was in English—but his podcast is well regarded, and his library of episodes includes substantive interviews with many prominent environmentalists, climate scientists, and entrepreneurs. David Owen, The New Yorker, 20 Feb. 2024 The actor and entrepreneur brought back a decidedly '90s look with this bob. Marci Robin, Allure, 20 Feb. 2024 With each survey, our list reflects new entrepreneurs who have transformed American life. Jonathan Bean, Fortune, 19 Feb. 2024 Apart from its unsurpassed physical beauty, California is still a place that attracts innovators and entrepreneurs. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 18 Feb. 2024 See More

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 24 Feb. 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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