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Alternative forms[edit]


From Old French via Middle English and Middle French entreprise, feminine past participle of entreprendre (to undertake), from entre (in between) + prendre (to take), from Latin inter + prehendō, see prehensile.


  • IPA(key): /ˈɛntɚˌpɹaɪz/
  • Hyphenation: en‧ter‧prise
  • (file)


enterprise (countable and uncountable, plural enterprises)

  1. A company, business, organization, or other purposeful endeavor.
    The government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) are a group of financial services corporations which have been created by the United States Congress.
    A micro-enterprise is defined as a business having 5 or fewer employees and a low seed capital.
  2. An undertaking, venture, or project, especially a daring and courageous one.
    Biosphere 2 was a scientific enterprise aimed at the exploration of the complex web of interactions within life systems.
  3. (uncountable) A willingness to undertake new or risky projects; energy and initiative.
    He has shown great enterprise throughout his early career.
    • (Can we date this quote by Philip Larkin and provide title, author's full name, and other details?), Continuing to Live
      This loss of interest, hair, and enterprise — / Ah, if the game were poker, yes, / You might discard them, draw a full house! / But it's chess.
  4. (uncountable) Active participation in projects. (Can we add an example for this sense?)


Derived terms[edit]



enterprise (third-person singular simple present enterprises, present participle enterprising, simple past and past participle enterprised)

  1. (intransitive) To undertake an enterprise, or something hazardous or difficult.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Alexander Pope to this entry?)
  2. (transitive) To undertake; to begin and attempt to perform; to venture upon.
    • (Can we date this quote by Dryden and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      The business must be enterprised this night.
    • (Can we date this quote by T. Otway and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      What would I not renounce or enterprise for you!
  3. (transitive) To treat with hospitality; to entertain.
    • (Can we date this quote by Spenser and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Him at the threshold met, and well did enterprise.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for enterprise in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)


  • enterprise at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • enterprise in Keywords for Today: A 21st Century Vocabulary, edited by The Keywords Project, Colin MacCabe, Holly Yanacek, 2018.
  • enterprise in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911