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."
"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.)).
1708 in a military sense, "engaged on a special enterprise;" 1842 in politics, "of or pertaining to a party or faction;" from partisan (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.