pro·​pri·​e·​tor·​ship | \ prə-ˈprī-ə-tər-ˌship How to pronounce proprietorship (audio) \
plural proprietorships

Definition of proprietorship

1 : the state or fact of being a proprietor : ownership proprietorship of a medical product proprietorship of a copyright English proprietorship of Dunkirk was brief, because four years later King Charles II sold the port to France for ready cash—five million livres.— Niger Calder
2 : something (such as land or a business) owned by a proprietor Each business organization is structured in one of three ways: (1) as a sole proprietorship, (2) as a partnership, or (3) as a corporation. A sole proprietorship is owned and operated by one individual. The owner reaps all profits and is responsible for all the debts of the business.— Harriet E. Jones et al. Six of the colonies that eventually would form the nation were either founded or came under English rule during that period: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania (including Delaware), and North and South Carolina. All were proprietorships: that is, like Maryland they were granted in their entirety to one man or a group of men, who both held title to the soil and controlled the government. Charles II gave these vast American holdings as rewards to the men who had supported him during his years of exile.— Mary Beth Norton et al.

First Known Use of proprietorship

1669, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of proprietorship was in 1669

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Cite this Entry

“Proprietorship.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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Legal Definition of proprietorship

1 : the fact or state of being a proprietor
2 : a business entity consisting of a single owner : sole proprietorship — compare corporation, partnership

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