business – Wiktionary

Christel Deskins

English[edit] Etymology[edit] From Middle English busines, busynes, businesse, bisynes, from Old English bisiġnes (“business, busyness”), equivalent to busy +‎ -ness. Compare also busyness. Pronunciation[edit] Noun[edit] business (countable and uncountable, plural businesses) (countable) A specific commercial enterprise or establishment. I was left my father’s business. 2013 June 22, “T time”, in […]



From Middle English busines, busynes, businesse, bisynes, from Old English bisiġnes (business, busyness), equivalent to busy +‎ -ness. Compare also busyness.



business (countable and uncountable, plural businesses)

  1. (countable) A specific commercial enterprise or establishment.

    I was left my father’s business.

    • 2013 June 22, “T time”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8841, page 68:

      The ability to shift profits to low-tax countries by locating intellectual property in them, which is then licensed to related businesses in high-tax countries, is often assumed to be the preserve of high-tech companies.

  2. (countable) A person’s occupation, work, or trade.

    He is in the motor and insurance businesses.

    I’m going to Las Vegas on business.

  3. (uncountable) Commercial, industrial, or professional activity.

    He’s such a poor cook, I can’t believe he’s still in business!

    We do business all over the world.

  4. (uncountable) The volume or amount of commercial trade.

    Business has been slow lately.

    They did nearly a million dollars of business over the long weekend.

    • 2013 May 25, “No hiding place”, in The Economist[1], volume 407, number 8837, page 74:

      In America alone, people spent $170 billion on “direct marketing”—junk mail of both the physical and electronic varieties—last year. Yet of those who received unsolicited adverts through the post, only 3% bought anything as a result. If the bumf arrived electronically, the take-up rate was 0.1%. And for online adverts the “conversion” into sales was a minuscule 0.01%. That means about $165 billion was spent not on drumming up business, but on annoying people, creating landfill and cluttering spam filters.

  5. (uncountable) One’s dealings; patronage.

    I shall take my business elsewhere.

  6. (uncountable) Private commercial interests taken collectively.

    This proposal will satisfy both business and labor.

    • 2013 August 10, Schumpeter, “Cronies and capitols”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8848:

      Policing the relationship between government and business in a free society is difficult. Businesspeople have every right to lobby governments, and civil servants to take jobs in the private sector.

  7. (uncountable) The management of commercial enterprises, or the study of such management.

    I studied business at Harvard.

  8. (countable) A particular situation or activity.

    This UFO stuff is a mighty strange business.

  9. (countable) Any activity or objective needing to be dealt with; especially, one of a financial or legal matter.

    Our principal business here is to get drunk.

    Let’s get down to business.

    • 1651, Thomas Hobbes, “Chapter I: Of Sense”, in LeviathanWikisource:

      To know the naturall cause of Sense, is not very necessary to the business now in hand; and I have els-where written of the same at large.

  10. (uncountable) Something involving one personally.

    That’s none of your business.

  11. (uncountable, parliamentary procedure) Matters that come before a body for deliberation or action.

    If that concludes the announcements, we’ll move on to new business.

  12. (travel, uncountable) Business class, the class of seating provided by airlines between first class and coach.
    • 1992, James Wallace and Jim Erickson, Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire[2], page 154:

      Gates, who always flew business or coach, didn’t particularly like the high air fares Nishi was charging to Microsoft, []

  13. (acting) Action carried out with a prop or piece of clothing, usually away from the focus of the scene.
    • 1983, Peter Thomson, Shakespeare’s Theatre[3], →ISBN, page 155:

      The business with the hat is a fine example of the difficulty of distinguishing between ‘natural’ and ‘formal’ acting.

  14. (countable, rare) The collective noun for a group of ferrets.
    • 2004, Dave Duncan, The Jaguar Knights: A Chronicle of the King’s Blades[4], →ISBN, page 252:

      I’m sure his goons will go through the ship like a business of ferrets, and they’ll want to look in our baggage.

  15. (uncountable, slang, Britain) Something very good; top quality. (possibly from “the bee’s knees”)

    These new phones are the business!

  16. (slang, uncountable) Excrement, particularly that of a non-human animal.

    Your ferret left his business all over the floor.

    As the cart went by, its horse lifted its tail and did its business.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.



  1. Of, to, pertaining to or utilized for purposes of conducting trade, commerce, governance, advocacy or other professional purposes.
    • 1897, Reform Club (New York, N.Y.) Sound Currency Committee, Sound Currency[5], volume 4-5, page cclii:

      They are solely business instruments. Every man’s relation to them is purely a business relation. His use of them is purely a business use.

    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 10, in The China Governess[6]:

      With a little manœuvring they contrived to meet on the doorstep which was […] in a boiling stream of passers-by, hurrying business people speeding past in a flurry of fumes and dust in the bright haze.

    • 1996, Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Company, American Law Reports: Annotations and Cases[7], volume 35, page 432:

      [] the fact that the injured party came to the insured premises for solely business purposes precluded any reliance on the non-business pursuits exception (§ 1 1 2[b]).

    • 2003, Marvin Snider, Compatibility Breeds Success: How to Manage Your Relationship with Your Business Partner[8], page 298:

      Both of these partnerships have to cope with these dual issues in a more complicated way than is the case in solely business partnerships.

    Please do not use this phone for personal calls; it is a business phone.

  2. Professional, businesslike, having concern for good business practice.
    • 1889, The Clothier and furnisher[9], volume 19, page 38:

      He is thoroughly business, but has the happy faculty of transacting it in a genial and courteous manner.

    • 1909, Business Administration: Business Practice[10], La Salle Extension University, page 77:

      [] and the transaction carried through in a thoroughly business manner.

    • 1927, “Making of America Project”, in Harper’s Magazine[11], volume 154, page 502:

      Sometimes this very subtle contrast becomes only too visible, as when in wartime Jewish business men were almost lynched because they were thoroughly business men and worked for profit.

    • 2009, Frank Channing Haddock, Business Power: Supreme Business Laws and Maxims that Win Wealth[12], page 231:

      The moral is evident: do not invest in schemes promising enormous and quick returns unless you have investigated them in a thoroughly business manner.

  3. Supporting business, conducive to the conduct of business.
    • 1867, Edmund Hodgson Yates (editor), “Amiens”, in Tinsley’s Magazine[13], page 430:

      Amiens is a thoroughly business town, the business being chiefly with the flax-works.

    • 2013 June 8, “Obama goes troll-hunting”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8839, page 55:

      According to this saga of intellectual-property misanthropy, these creatures [patent trolls] roam the business world, buying up patents and then using them to demand extravagant payouts from companies they accuse of infringing them. Often, their victims pay up rather than face the costs of a legal battle.

See also[edit]


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



Unadapted borrowing from English business.


  • IPA(key): /ˈbisnes/, [ˈbis̠ne̞s̠]
  • IPA(key): /ˈpisnes/, [ˈpis̠ne̞s̠]
  • IPA(key): /ˈbusinesː/, [ˈbus̠ine̞s̠ː]



  1. Alternative spelling of bisnes

Usage notes[edit]

It may be advisable to avoid using this term in writing.


This spelling does not fit nicely into Finnish declension system and is therefore seldom used, and mainly in nominative singular.

Pronunciation “bisnes”:

Pronunciation “business”:


  • See Synonyms-section under bisnes


Borrowed from English business.



business m (plural business)

  1. business, firm, company
  2. business, affairs

Further reading[edit]



Borrowed from English business.



business m (invariable)

  1. business (commercial enterprise)



Borrowed from English business.



  1. business



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