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 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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about proprietorship

Time Traveler for proprietorship

Time Traveler

The first known use of proprietorship was in 1669

See more words from the same year

Statistics for proprietorship

Cite this Entry

“Proprietorship.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for proprietorship



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

More from Merriam-Webster on proprietorship

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for proprietorship

Comments on proprietorship

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!