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  1. a project undertaken or to be undertaken, especially one that is important or difficult or that requires boldness or energy: To keep the peace is a difficult enterprise.
  2. a plan for such a project.
  3. participation or engagement in such projects: Our country was formed by the enterprise of resolute men and women.
  4. boldness or readiness in undertaking; adventurous spirit; ingenuity.
  5. a company organized for commercial purposes; business firm.
  6. (initial capital letter) Military. the first nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier, commissioned in 1961, with a displacement of 89,000 tons (80,723 metric tons) and eight reactors.
  7. (initial capital letter, italics) U.S. Aerospace. the first space shuttle, used for atmospheric flight and landing tests.

Origin of enterprise

1400–50; late Middle English < Middle French, noun use of feminine of entrepris (past participle of entreprendre to undertake) < Latin inter- inter- + prēnsus grasped, seized, contraction of prehēnsus, equivalent to pre- pre- + hend- take hold of + -tus past participle suffix
Related formsen·ter·prise·less, adjective

Synonyms for enterprise

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  1. a city in S Alabama.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for enterprises

Contemporary Examples of enterprises

Historical Examples of enterprises

  • It is not difficult to surmise to what enterprises the President referred.

    The Railroad Question

    William Larrabee

  • If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises they lose all heart.

    Essays, First Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Another wanted me to buy a paper for him, in which he was to support all my enterprises.

    The Market-Place

    Harold Frederic

  • That's the trouble with half the enterprises in the country.

    Mixed Faces

    Roy Norton

  • Both these plants are enterprises of Stone & Webster, of Boston.

British Dictionary definitions for enterprises


  1. a project or undertaking, esp one that requires boldness or effort
  2. participation in such projects
  3. readiness to embark on new ventures; boldness and energy
    1. initiative in business
    2. (as modifier)the enterprise culture
  4. a business unit; a company or firm
Derived Formsenterpriser, noun

Word Origin for enterprise

C15: from Old French entreprise (n), from entreprendre from entre- between (from Latin: inter-) + prendre to take, from Latin prehendere to grasp
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

Word Origin and History for enterprises



early 15c., "an undertaking," from Old French enterprise "an undertaking," noun use of fem. past participle of entreprendre "undertake, take in hand," from entre- "between" (see entre-) + prendre "to take," contraction of prehendere (see prehensile). Abstract sense of "readiness to undertake challenges, spirit of daring" is from late 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with enterprises


see free enterprise.

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