en·​tre·​pre·​neur ˌän-trə-p(r)ə-ˈnər How to pronounce entrepreneur (audio)
: one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise
-ˈn(y)u̇r- How to pronounce entrepreneur (audio)

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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 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 Hill County is to Austin what the Hudson Valley is to New York; the area has emerged as a sanctuary for creatives and entrepreneurs seeking community and life closer to nature, yet still within reach of the lively heartbeat of the Texan capital. Samantha Shankman, Vogue, 23 Nov. 2023 Tasha McCauley The OpenAI board member and tech entrepreneur also sits on the board of the Center for the Governance of AI, a British think tank that researches the impact of artificial intelligence. Gerrit De Vynck, Washington Post, 22 Nov. 2023 The outcome, with Mr. Altman reinstated as CEO and new people on the company’s board, may signal the powerful role that capitalists and entrepreneurs will play – at least in the United States – in shaping the future of this emerging technology. Laurent Belsie, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 Nov. 2023 The winners will be selected by a panel of celebrity judges including Hip Hop pioneer MC Lyte, music producer and entrepreneur Craig King, TikTok sensation The BoykinZ, GRAMMY Award-winning artist and producer Bosko Kante, Rock the Bells President James Cuthbert, and more. Tanay Howard, Parents, 20 Nov. 2023 Vivek Ramaswamy, a biotech entrepreneur, started out as a vaccine cheerleader. Darius Tahir, CBS News, 20 Nov. 2023 The couple bought the land from entrepreneur Judd Schoenholtz, who bought the lot in a trust sale. Marissa Gluck, Los Angeles Times, 20 Nov. 2023 Despite the legal speed bumps, Trump is still leading the 2024 Republican primary race against the other candidates in the field, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, business entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). Asher Notheis, Washington Examiner, 12 Nov. 2023 Each gave $6,600 — the maximum amount allowed by law for individual donors — to DeSantis, Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, the filings show. Maxine Joselow, Washington Post, 10 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History


French, from Old French, from entreprendre to undertake — more at enterprise

First Known Use

1762, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of entrepreneur was in 1762

Dictionary Entries Near entrepreneur

Cite this Entry

“Entrepreneur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entrepreneur. Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


en·​tre·​pre·​neur ˌän-trə-p(r)ə-ˈnər How to pronounce entrepreneur (audio)
: one who organizes, manages, and takes on the risks of a business or enterprise
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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