1. An undertaking, especially one of some scope, complication, and risk.
2. A business organization.
3. Industrious, systematic activity, especially when directed toward profit: Private enterprise is basic to capitalism.
4. Willingness to undertake new ventures; initiative: "Through want of enterprise and faith men are where they are, buying and selling, and spending their lives like serfs" (Henry David Thoreau).
[Middle English, from Old French entreprise, from past participle of entreprendre, to undertake : entre-, between (from Latin inter-; see INTER-) + prendre, to take (from Latin prehendere, prēndere; see ghend- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.