Date: 1300-1400
Origin: busy


busi‧ness S1 W1

buying or selling goods or services

[uncountable] the activity of making money by producing or buying and selling goods, or providing services [↪ commerce, trade]:
Students on the course learn about all aspects of business.
We do business with a number of Italian companies.
Vanessa decided to go into business as an art-dealer.
set up/start up in business
The scheme offers free advice to people wanting to set up in business.
In order to stay in business, you must do better than your competitors.
the advertising/music/fashion etc business
Carl began in the music business by running a recording studio.
business activities/interests etc
He has a wide range of business interests.


[countable] an organization such as a company, shop, or factory that produces or sells goods or provides a service:
She now has her own $25 million home-shopping business.
They don't know how to run a business.
The company began as a small family business (=owned and controlled by one family).
Owners of small businesses (=that employ only a few people) will be hit hardest by these tax changes.
big business (=large and powerful companies in general)
Does big business have more control over our everyday lives than our elected governments?
the business community (=people who work in business generally)
the international business community

how much work a company has

[uncountable] the amount of work a company does or the amount of money it makes:
We're now doing twice as much business as we did last year.
Exports account for 72% of overall business.
business is good/bad/slow etc
Business is slow during the summer.
drum up business (=try to get more work for you or your company)
Perot was in Europe, drumming up business for his new investment company.

for your job

[uncountable] work that you do as part of your job:
She's in New York this week on business (=for her work).
Hi Maggie! Is this phone call business or pleasure?
business trip/meeting etc
We discussed the idea over a business lunch.

what someone should be involved in

a) if something is not your business or none of your business, you should not be involved in it or ask about it:
It was not her business, she decided, to ask where the money came from.
It's none of your business how much I weigh.
'Who's that girl you were with?' ' Mind your own business (=Don't ask questions about something that does not concern you)!'
Are you going out with Kate tonight? 'That's my business' (=it doesn't concern you, so don't ask me questions about it).
b) if it is someone's business to do something, it is their duty or responsibility to do it
it is the business of somebody to do something
It is the business of government to listen to the various groups within society.

things to be dealt with

[uncountable] things that need to be done or discussed:
Okay, let's get down to business (=start doing or discussing something).
'Is there any other business?' the chairman asked.


[singular] a situation or activity, especially one that you have a particular opinion about or attitude towards
a serious/strange/funny etc business
Leon regards keeping fit as a serious business.
Tanya found the whole business ridiculous.

be in business

a) to be involved in business activities:
The company has been in business for over thirty years.
b) spoken to have all that you need to start doing something:
I've just got to buy the paint and then we're in business.

(go) out of business

if a company goes out of business, or something puts it out of business, it stops operating, especially because of financial problems:
Higher interest rates will drive small firms out of business.

be back in business

to be working or operating in a normal way again:
The band are back in business after a long break.

somebody was (just) minding their own business

spoken used to say that someone was not doing anything unusual or wrong at the time when something unfair or bad happened to them:
I was driving along, minding my own business, when the police stopped my car.

go about your business

to do the things that you normally do:
The street was full of ordinary people going about their business.

make it your business to do something

to make a special effort to do something:
Ruth made it her business to get to know the customers.

mean business

informal to be serious about doing something even if it involves harming someone:
The border is guarded by troops who mean business.

unfinished business

something you need to discuss further with someone or a situation that has not yet reached a satisfactory solution:
The sudden death of a loved one can often leave the bereaved with an agonising sense of unfinished business.

business is business

spoken used to say that profit is the most important thing to consider:
We can't afford to employ someone who isn't good at the job - business is business.

business as usual

BBT when someone or something is still working or operating normally when you think they might not be:
Despite last night's scare, it was business as usual in the White House today.

have no business doing something/have no business to do something

to do something you should not be doing:
He was drunk and had no business driving.

not be in the business of doing something

to not be intending to do something because you think it is a bad idea:
I'm not in the business of selling my best players.

and all that business

spoken informal and other things of the same general kind:
She handles the publicity and all that business.

(it's) the business

British English informal used to say that something is very good or works well:
Have you seen David's new car? It's the business!

do the business

British English informal
a) to do what you are expected to do or what people want you to do:
Come on, then, and do the business.
b) to have sex
big business

; ➔ funny business

at funny (3)

; ➔ like nobody's business

at nobody1 (2)

; ➔ monkey business

at monkey1 (3), show business
WORD FOCUS: company WORD FOCUS: company
similar words: firm, business

a big company: corporation, multinational, conglomerate

an Internet company: dot-com

a company that is owned by a larger company: subsidiary, affiliate

abbreviations used in company names: Ltd (Limited)
(Public Limited Company) British English, Pty. (Proprietary) used in Australia and South Africa

See also