pro·​pri·​e·​tor·​ship prə-ˈprī-ə-tər-ˌship How to pronounce proprietorship (audio)
plural proprietorships
: 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
: something (such as a business) owned by a proprietor
Hispanic residents are filling the economic niche of mom-and-pop operations and other small proprietorshipsRaymond Hernandez
especially : sole proprietorship
historical : ownership of a colony (such as one of the original American colonies) that includes full prerogatives of establishing a government and distributing land
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.

Examples of proprietorship in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Why not flail around in defense of my all-American single proprietorship? William T. Vollmann, Harper's Magazine, 16 Oct. 2023 The awards — which have been given out to local proprietorships for over three decades — this year were sponsored by HarborOne Bank., 1 June 2023 However, a proprietorship can only have one owner. Tom Cooney and Crystal Faulkner, The Enquirer, 5 Oct. 2020 Elon antagonists railed against his proprietorship. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 18 Nov. 2022 Yet Maphorisa’s response to the Davido fan seemed to encourage a fuller understanding of the hybrids rather than expressing proprietorship over them. Mankaprr Conteh, Rolling Stone, 14 Sep. 2022 Your initial choice of your business form – proprietorship, corporate, LLC, partnership or other – will determine the afterlife of your business. Dallas News, 9 Jan. 2022 In addition, eagles can be seen intermittently at many points along the river as well as along other area streams, though nesting pairs inspire a sense of pride and proprietorship. Chris M. Worrell, cleveland, 16 Dec. 2021 The League is still overwhelmingly white, as is 100 percent of the proprietorship of those Broadway theaters. Helen Shaw, Vulture, 2 Sep. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'proprietorship.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1669, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of proprietorship was in 1669

Dictionary Entries Near proprietorship

Cite this Entry

“Proprietorship.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Legal Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on proprietorship

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