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

That assortment of guests included fashion mainstays like Delevingne’s fellow catwalk queen Jourdan Dunn, and innovative minds like entrepreneur and filmmaker Jamal Edwards MBE, and actress and director Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Vogue, "Burberry Launches Its Latest Fragrance in London With Cara Delevingne," 11 Oct. 2018 This month, Elon Musk’s SpaceX announced that Yusaku Maezawa, a 42-year-old Japanese entrepreneur and art collector, would be circumnavigating the moon in 2023. Alyson Krueger, Condé Nast Traveler, "Will Non-Astronauts Survive Space Travel? Q&A with a NASA Researcher," 3 Oct. 2018 Nominations open for E-Day Awards The Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center (NW-ISBDC) is seeking nominations for its 27th Entrepreneurial Excellence (E-Day) Awards, which celebrates regional entrepreneurs and advocates. Staff Report, Post-Tribune, "Community news," 13 July 2018 The traditionally low-income neighborhood and its affordable real estate has caught the attention of artists and entrepreneurs in recent years. Maggie Menderski, The Courier-Journal, "Galan’s Meat Market and Deli brings lost art of butchering to Portland," 28 June 2018 While hackathons are usually reserved for computer programmers, this dayslong sprint will also draw on the expertise of local mental health experts and community leaders, parents, analysts and entrepreneurs. Rebecca Lurye, Courant Community, "Hackathon To Shape Hartford's Plan To Aid Traumatized Youth," 22 June 2018 One exception to the feel-good vibe has been an ongoing feud between tech entrepreneur Elon Musk and a British caving expert, Vernon Unsworth, whose advice and experience were considered crucial to the rescue operation. Fox News, "Thai cave story moves to Bangkok mall with boys taking stage," 6 Sep. 2018 Those competitors include former banking executive Bob Stefanowski, former hedge fund manager David Stemerman, and tech entrepreneur Steve Obsitnik, with Stefanowski and Stemerman self-funding a hefty chunk of their campaigns. Li Zhou, Vox, "The Connecticut governor’s race, a rare 2018 opening for Republicans, explained," 13 Aug. 2018 Here’s just one from longtime tech entrepreneur Mitch Kapor, for example: What Mark Zuckerberg needs to understand the intent of Holocaust deniers is not the sole proper standard of judgment. Kara Swisher, Recode, "Mark Zuckerberg clarifies: ‘I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.’," 18 July 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

1 Dec 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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