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.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The 66-year-old Burgum, a former computer software entrepreneur, would be jumping into a field that includes fellow Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, seen by some Republicans as the strongest alternative to Trump. John Hanna And Thomas Beaumont, Chicago Tribune, 27 May 2023 But one entrepreneur found a way to use the power of the internet to transform his fundraising round into something more like online dating. Bylucy Brewster, Fortune, 26 May 2023 Flagship, founded in 2000 by entrepreneur Noubar Afeyan, has invested more than $3.3 billion to start and fund more than 100 ventures. Robert Weisman, BostonGlobe.com, 16 May 2023 Senturia is a serial entrepreneur who invests in early stage technology companies. Neil Senturia, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 May 2023 The conference organizers are working with Endeavor, the global community for high-growth entrepreneurs, to bring other speakers, who will be announced later. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al, 15 May 2023 Some entrepreneurs said the country should become a major exporter of products made from renewable energy like hydrogen, fertilizers and clean shipping fuel. Clifford Krauss, New York Times, 15 May 2023 In addition to Barrymore and Pressman, guests attending the special occasion included Ralph Lauren's daughter Dylan Lauren and his son David Lauren, his wife Lauren Bush Lauren, as well as entrepreneur Jane Keltner, DJ Hannah Bronfman, former Elle editor Maria Duenas Jacobs, and more. Sophie Dweck, Town & Country, 13 May 2023 At that time, entrepreneurs rushed into car-making across the country, said Michelle Krebs, an executive analyst at Cox Automotive. Julian Mark, Washington Post, 11 May 2023 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 31 May. 2023.

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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