[ biz-nis ]
See synonyms for: businessbusinesses on

  1. an occupation, profession, or trade: His business is poultry farming.

  2. the purchase and sale of goods in an attempt to make a profit.

  1. a person, partnership, or corporation engaged in commerce, manufacturing, or a service; profit-seeking enterprise or concern.

  2. volume of trade; patronage: Most of the store's business comes from local families.

  3. a building or site where commercial work is carried on, as a factory, store, or office; place of work: His business is on the corner of Broadway and Elm Street.

  4. that with which a person is principally and seriously concerned: Words are a writer's business.

  5. something with which a person is rightfully concerned: What they are doing is none of my business.

  6. affair; project: We were exasperated by the whole business.

  7. an assignment or task; chore: It's your business to wash the dishes now.

  8. Also called piece of business, stage business. Theater. a movement or gesture, especially a minor one, used by an actor to give expressiveness, drama, detail, etc., to a scene or to help portray a character.

  9. excrement: used as a euphemism.

  1. of, noting, or pertaining to business, its organization, or its procedures.

  2. containing, suitable for, or welcoming business or commerce: New York is a good business town.

Idioms about business

  1. business is business, profit has precedence over personal considerations: He is reluctant to fire his friend, but business is business.

  2. do one's business, (usually of an animal or child) to defecate or urinate: housebreaking a puppy to do his business outdoors.

  1. get down to business, to apply oneself to serious matters; concentrate on work: They finally got down to business and signed the contract.

  2. give someone the business, Informal.

    • to make difficulties for someone; treat harshly: Instead of a straight answer they give him the business with a needless run-around.

    • to scold severely; give a tongue-lashing to: The passengers will give the bus driver the business if he keeps driving so recklessly.

  3. have no business, to have no right: You have no business coming into this house.

  4. mean business, to propose to take action or be serious in intent; be in earnest: By the fire in his eye we knew that he meant business.

  5. mind one's own business, to refrain from meddling in the affairs of others: When he inquired about the noise coming from the neighbor's apartment, he was told to mind his own business.

Origin of business

First recorded before 950; Middle English; Old English bisignes; busy + -ness

synonym study For business

1. See occupation.

pronunciation note For business

See isn't.

Other words for business

Other words from business

  • an·ti·busi·ness, adjective
  • in·ter·busi·ness, adjective
  • mul·ti·busi·ness, adjective
  • non·busi·ness, adjective
  • o·ver·bus·i·ness, noun
  • pro·busi·ness, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use business in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for business


/ (ˈbɪznɪs) /

  1. a trade or profession

  2. an industrial, commercial, or professional operation; purchase and sale of goods and services: the tailoring business

  1. a commercial or industrial establishment, such as a firm or factory

  2. commercial activity; dealings (esp in the phrase do business)

  3. volume or quantity of commercial activity: business is poor today

  4. commercial policy or procedure: overcharging is bad business

  5. proper or rightful concern or responsibility (often in the phrase mind one's own business)

  6. a special task; assignment

  7. a matter or matters to be attended to: the business of the meeting

  8. an affair; matter: a queer business; I'm tired of the whole business

  9. serious work or activity: get down to business

  10. a complicated affair; rigmarole

  11. informal a vaguely defined collection or area: jets, fast cars, and all that business

  12. Also called: stage business theatre an incidental action, such as lighting a pipe, performed by an actor for dramatic effect

  13. a group of ferrets

  14. euphemistic defecation (esp in the phrase do one's business)

  15. slang prostitution

  16. like nobody's business informal extremely well or fast

  17. mean business to be in earnest

  18. do the business informal to achieve what is required: it tastes vile, but it does the business

Origin of business

Old English bisignis solicitude, attentiveness, from bisig busy + -nis -ness

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with business


In addition to the idiom beginning with business

  • business as usual

also see:

  • funny business
  • get down to (business)
  • go about (one's business)
  • have no business doing
  • land-office business
  • like mad (nobody's business)
  • make it one's business
  • mean business
  • mind one's own business
  • monkey business
  • none of one's business
  • out of business
  • send someone about his or her business
  • the business

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.