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From Middle English industry, industrie, from Old French industrie, from Latin industria (diligence, activity, industry), from industrius (diligent, active, zealous), from Old Latin indostruus (diligent, active); origin unknown. Perhaps from indu (in) + ūst-, ūstr-, stem of ūrō (burn, burn up, consume, verb), related to Old High German ūstrī (industry), Old English andūstrian (to hate, detest, literally to be consumed with zeal).


  • IPA(key): /ˈɪndəstɹi/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: in‧dus‧try


industry (countable and uncountable, plural industries)

  1. (uncountable) The tendency to work persistently. Diligence.
    Over the years, their industry and business sense made them wealthy.
    • 1941, Ogden Nash, “The Ant”, in The Face is Familiar, Garden City Publishing Company, page 224:
      The ant has made himself illustrious / Through constant industry industrious. / So what? / Would you be calm and placid / If you were full of formic acid?
    • 2011 November 12, “International friendly: England 1-0 Spain”, in BBC Sport:
      England's win was built on industry and discipline, epitomised by the performances of Manchester City's Joleon Lescott in defence and Scott Parker in midfield.
  2. (countable, business, economics) Businesses of the same type, considered as a whole. Trade.
    The software and tourism industries continue to grow, while the steel industry remains troubled.
    The steel industry has long used blast furnaces to smelt iron.
    • 2012, Christoper Zara, Tortured Artists: From Picasso and Monroe to Warhol and Winehouse, the Twisted Secrets of the World's Most Creative Minds, part 1, chapter 2, 51:
      Long before popular music evolved its many genres and subgenres, the industry was driven by a simple one-size-fits-all philosophy uncomplicated by impassioned debates over the origins of trip hop or the difference between deatchore and screamo.
    • 2013 June 1, “End of the peer show”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8838, page 71:
      Finance is seldom romantic. But the idea of peer-to-peer lending comes close. This is an industry that brings together individual savers and lenders on online platforms. Those that want to borrow are matched with those that want to lend.
  3. (uncountable, economics) Businesses that produce goods as opposed to services.
    • 2006, Edwin Black, chapter 2, in Internal Combustion:
      But through the oligopoly, charcoal fuel proliferated throughout London's trades and industries.  By the 1200s, brewers and bakers, tilemakers, glassblowers, pottery producers, and a range of other craftsmen all became hour-to-hour consumers of charcoal.
  4. (in the singular, economics) The sector of the economy consisting of large-scale enterprises.
    There used to be a lot of industry around here, but now the economy depends on tourism.
    • 2013 July 20, “Out of the gloom”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
      [Rural solar plant] schemes are of little help to industry or other heavy users of electricity. Nor is solar power yet as cheap as the grid. For all that, the rapid arrival of electric light to Indian villages is long overdue. When the national grid suffers its next huge outage, as it did in July 2012 when hundreds of millions were left in the dark, look for specks of light in the villages.
  5. (Europe software patent law) Automated production of material goods.
    • 2007, Dominique Guellec with Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, The economics of the European patent system, page 122:
      It is a classical and restricted view both of industry (it excludes service sectors, now 70% of the GDP of developed economies) []
  6. (archaeology) A typological classification of stone tools, associated with a technocomplex.


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