en·tre·pre·neur | \ˌäⁿn-trə-p(r)ə-ˈnər, -ˈn(y)u̇r\

Definition of entrepreneur 

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

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Other Words from entrepreneur

entrepreneurial \ˌäⁿn-trə-p(r)ə-ˈn(y)u̇r-ē-əl, -ˈnər- \ adjective
entrepreneurialism \ˌäⁿn-trə-p(r)ə-ˈn(y)u̇r-ē-ə-li-zəm, -ˈnər- \ noun
entrepreneurially \ˌäⁿn-trə-p(r)ə-ˈn(y)u̇r-ē-ə-lē, -ˈnər- \ adverb
entrepreneurship \ˌäⁿn-trə-p(r)ə-ˈnər-ˌship, -ˈn(y)u̇r- \ 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

How to Present an Authentic Self at Work as a Woman Female entrepreneurs and successful professionals are often faced with two choices: either accept the status quo or focus on breaking down barriers. Emily Cassidy /, NBC News, "In the Know: Women in the news 7/9-7/13," 13 July 2018 Square Roots greens are grown by entrepreneurs in a yearlong program and sold locally, according to the company website. Greg Trotter, chicagotribune.com, "Coming to Englewood: Kimbal Musk's Square Roots urban farm in shipping containers," 12 July 2018 Women only represent a third of all entrepreneurs in the EU and are half as likely to be self-employed as men. The Economist, "Women-only clubs get a makeover," 28 June 2018 Earlier on Wednesday, William began the day by strolling down Tel Aviv's trendy Rothschild Boulevard and meeting young artists and entrepreneurs in Israel's cultural and financial capital. Eyad Moghrabi, Fox News, "Prince William meets Palestinians in West Bank," 27 June 2018 Best-selling author and tech entrepreneur Alec Ross is a former Baltimore City teacher and alumnus of the Obama administration. Erin Cox, baltimoresun.com, "Primary 101: A newcomer's guide to today's election in Maryland," 26 June 2018 According to the Ashlee Vance’s 2015 biography of the tech entrepreneur, Musk copied the text of the letter and pasted into a Word document, and checked the size of the file. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "Elon Musk’s Long Obsession With Sabotage," 19 June 2018 While her client and tech entrepreneur David Yaffe was busy traveling for work, Joo was busy transforming his condo room by room. Danielle Fox, ELLE Decor, "How Concrete Modernized A Former Celebrity-Owned Condo in New York," 18 June 2018 Former journalist Amanda Jones and tech entrepreneur Jennifer Chapin founded Kikoko to help revolutionize women’s health, although men can reap the same benefits from drinking it. Steffi Victorioso, Los Angeles Magazine, "Local Women Are Hosting Fancy “High Teas” With the Help of a Cannabis Brand," 29 May 2018

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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Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

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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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