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

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 entrepreneurship (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

Typical of entrepreneurs, Ling and Shine were working long hours and going home feeling exhausted. Michelle Cheng, Quartz at Work, "These millennials were so burned out, they’re building a startup to combat burnout," 3 Sep. 2019 This exhibition by the Jewish Museum of Maryland tells the stories of generations of scrap entrepreneurs, beginning with Jewish and Italian peddlers who built the industry. Mary Carole Mccauley, baltimoresun.com, "Top Baltimore arts events for fall 2019," 29 Aug. 2019 But Collins is one of several entrepreneurs trying to strike while YouTube is in turmoil. Mark Bergen, Los Angeles Times, "YouTube is under fire for inappropriate kids videos. Rivals see an opening," 29 Aug. 2019 One of my mentors, Sequoia partner Alfred Lin, once told me the defining trait of successful entrepreneurs is a commitment to process. Aimee Groth, Quartz, "Andrew Yang’s basic income plan permits Americans to fail. And that’s a good thing," 20 Aug. 2019 Small, local businesses are proliferating, as a wave of island entrepreneurs have invested in new hotels, such as O:LV Fifty Five in San Juan and Finca Victoria in Vieques. Kathleen Squires, Condé Nast Traveler, "What to Expect Traveling in Post-Hurricane Puerto Rico," 20 Aug. 2019 In the past few years, though, PIE has refocused on the more varied aspirations of entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds who are focused on a wider range of markets. Mike Rogoway, oregonlive.com, "Portland Incubator Experiment teams with Puppet for latest startups class," 15 Aug. 2019 Johnson is one of the most successful entrepreneurs to have played professional sports. Allen Kim, CNN, "Magic Johnson turns 60 with an epic vacation and his own top-60 lists," 14 Aug. 2019 Immigrants make up just 13% of the population but account for nearly 28% of America’s entrepreneurs. The Christian Science Monitor, "The path to meaningful employment," 13 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for entrepreneur

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for entrepreneur

The first known use of entrepreneur was in 1762

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English Language Learners Definition of entrepreneur

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

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Comments on entrepreneur

What made you want to look up entrepreneur? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


concealment of treason or felony

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