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 The Asian giant has become Africa’s largest trading partner in aggregate and it is estimated there are more than a million Chinese workers and entrepreneurs on the continent. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "More African countries are getting coronavirus testing labs but are on edge as the threat looms," 7 Feb. 2020 The coworking space is the latest project of Sieria Payne, a mother and entrepreneur who made a name for herself — the mommypreneur — on social media and by throwing women business showers. Sarah Hauer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The Mommypreneur is opening a child-friendly coworking space for women off Brady Street," 6 Feb. 2020 The state’s Cannabis Control Commission on Thursday voted to give final license approval to Pure Oasis, a pot shop proposed by two local black entrepreneurs. Washington Post, "Green tea party? State licenses Boston’s 1st marijuana shop," 6 Feb. 2020 Nightmare for Silicon Valley’: Coronavirus travel ban strands workers, entrepreneurs. Taylor Kate Brown, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Briefing: Why California won’t replicate Iowa’s caucus chaos," 5 Feb. 2020 This year, the partners will add a #WoodlawnMade tend to the vendor mix, featuring goods from up-and-coming Woodlawn entrepreneurs working with REV Birmingham’s Business Growth team. al, "Vendor applications are now open for the 2020 Woodlawn Street Market," 4 Feb. 2020 But that did not stop her from pushing for startups and entrepreneurs at length. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "Budget 2020’s push for startups shows that entrepreneurship is serious business in India," 3 Feb. 2020 More than 180,000 refugee entrepreneurs ran businesses that generated a total $4.6 billion that year. Gideon Maltz, Fortune, "Why 19 Republican governors went against the Trump administration’s stance on refugees," 3 Feb. 2020 On a deeper level, she's been an amateur one-person glam squad long before the Internet became enamored with the entrepreneur/model. Devon Abelman, Allure, "Why Devon Lee Carlson Thinks She Could Have Been a Makeup Artist," 31 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for entrepreneur

Time Traveler

The first known use of entrepreneur was in 1762

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Statistics for entrepreneur

Last Updated

10 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Entrepreneur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entrepreneurship. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for entrepreneur


How to pronounce entrepreneur (audio)

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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