business (n.)

Old English bisignes (Northumbrian) "care, anxiety, occupation," from bisig "careful, anxious, busy, occupied, diligent" (see busy (adj.)) + -ness. The original sense is obsolete, as is the Middle English sense of "state of being much occupied or engaged" (mid-14c.), the latter replaced by busyness. Johnson's dictionary also has busiless "At leisure; without business; unemployed." Modern two-syllable pronunciation is 17c.

Sense of "a person's work, occupation, that which one does for a livelihood" is first recorded late 14c. (in late Old English bisig (adj.) appears as a noun with the sense "occupation, state of employment"). Sense of "that which is undertaken as a duty" is from late 14c. Meaning "what one is about at the moment" is from 1590s. Sense of "trade, commercial engagements, mercantile pursuits collectively" is first attested 1727, on the notion of "matters which occupy one's time and attention." In 17c. business also could mean "sexual intercourse."

Business card first attested 1840; business letter from 1766. Business end "the practical or effective part" (of something) is American English, by 1874. Phrase business as usual attested from 1865. To mean business "be intent on serious action" is from 1856. To mind (one's) own business "attend to one's affairs and not meddle with those of others" is from 1620s.

updated on December 05, 2018

Definitions of business from WordNet

business (n.)
the volume of commercial activity;
show me where the business was today
business is good today
business (n.)
a commercial or industrial enterprise and the people who constitute it;
a racially integrated business concern
he bought his brother's business
a small mom-and-pop business
Synonyms: concern / business concern / business organization / business organisation
business (n.)
the activity of providing goods and services involving financial and commercial and industrial aspects;
computers are now widely used in business
Synonyms: commercial enterprise / business enterprise
business (n.)
the principal activity in your life that you do to earn money;
he's not in my line of business
Synonyms: occupation / job / line of work / line
business (n.)
a rightful concern or responsibility;
mind your own business
it's none of your business
business (n.)
an immediate objective;
gossip was the main business of the evening
business (n.)
business concerns collectively;
Government and business could not agree
Synonyms: business sector
business (n.)
customers collectively;
Synonyms: clientele / patronage
business (n.)
incidental activity performed by an actor for dramatic effect;
his business with the cane was hilarious
Synonyms: stage business / byplay
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.