early 15c., "an undertaking," formerly also enterprize, from Old French enterprise "an undertaking," noun use of fem. past participle of entreprendre "undertake, take in hand" (12c.), from entre- "between" (see entre-) + prendre "to take," contraction of prehendere "to catch hold of, seize" (from prae- "before," see pre-, + -hendere, from PIE root *ghend- "to seize, take"). Abstract sense of "adventurous disposition, readiness to undertake challenges, spirit of daring" is from late 15c.
A living prefix in English from 15c. and used with Germanic as well as Latinate words. Spelled entre- in French; most words borrowed into English in that form were re-spelled 16c. to conform with Latin except entertain, enterprise. In Latin, spelling shifted to intel- before -l-, hence intelligence, etc.
also *ghed-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to seize, to take."
It forms all or part of: apprehend; apprentice; apprise; beget; comprehend; comprehension; comprehensive; comprise; depredate; depredation; emprise; enterprise; entrepreneur; forget; get; guess; impresario; misprision; osprey; predatory; pregnable; prehensile; prehension; prey; prison; prize (n.2) "something taken by force;" pry (v.2) "raise by force;" reprehend; reprieve; reprisal; reprise; spree; surprise.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek khandanein "to hold, contain;" Lithuanian godėtis "be eager;" second element in Latin prehendere "to grasp, seize;" Welsh gannu "to hold, contain;" Russian za-gadka "riddle;" Old Norse geta "to obtain, reach; to be able to; to beget; to learn; to be pleased with;" Albanian gjen "to find."
1708 in a military sense, "engaged on a special enterprise;" 1842 in politics, "of or pertaining to a party or faction;" from partisan (n.).
"printed plan or sketch meant to make known the chief features of some proposed enterprise," 1765, from French prospectus (1723) and directly from Latin prospectus "a lookout, a view" (see prospect (n.)).
"make private as opposed to public," especially of a state transferring services or industries to private enterprise, 1966, a back-formation from privatization (q.v.). Re-privatise is attested from 1942. Related: Privatized; privatizing.