Definition of business in English:



  • 1A person's regular occupation, profession, or trade.

    ‘she had to do a lot of smiling in her business’
    ‘are you here on business?’
    • ‘I was seven years old, and my father had been away on business for a month.’
    • ‘It claimed to offer free parking and transport to Manchester Airport for customers flying out on business or holidays.’
    • ‘As for me, I'm probably going to have visit Kiev on business some time this year.’
    • ‘Ashraf regularly flew to Pakistan from Glasgow airport on business.’
    • ‘Stewart never voted for devolution - he was in Dubai on business at the time of the 1997 referendum.’
    • ‘Zurich surveyed firms to see if they carry out risk assessments of employees before letting them drive on business.’
    • ‘All three learned well and were good to their mother when their father was away on business, which he often was.’
    • ‘He was in Europe on business and, having read about the Silver Arrow on its website, was determined to compete.’
    • ‘When you stay in a hotel room on business and not on vacation, it's still a sort of like a vacation.’
    • ‘When I first flew to Manhattan on business I stayed in the New Yorker Hotel.’
    • ‘He was in Japan, a guest of the Japanese consulate on business in his other profession as writer and journalist.’
    • ‘Electors can appoint a proxy if they are unable to vote themselves, if they are out of the country on holiday or on business or in the armed forces.’
    • ‘When travelling away on business, always remember to pack a shaver.’
    • ‘Darlington's owner George Reynolds was unable to be contacted today as he was in Norway on business for the next few days.’
    • ‘McClung, who travels extensively on business, is eligible for major bonus points.’
    • ‘We live in better houses, we enjoy better holiday accommodation and when we go away on business we get a better deal.’
    • ‘The Prospective Group carried on business in promotion and market consultancy.’
    • ‘When travelling on business, always pack an extra change of clothes.’
    • ‘For years, her mother travelled to London on business yet they rarely met up.’
    • ‘He told the jury that he had expected to travel north with his dad on business on that particular day in April last year.’
    work, line of work, line, occupation, profession, career, employment, job, day job, position, pursuit, vocation, calling, field, sphere, walk of life, trade, craft
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    1. 1.1An activity that someone is engaged in.
      ‘what is your business here?’
      • ‘I really do not think it is the business of retailers to have control over editorial content of magazines.’
      • ‘Investment trusts are companies whose business it is to make money from investments.’
      • ‘The liberal view was that religion was a private matter; it was not the business of the state to enforce a particular creed.’
      • ‘All of an auctioneer's business requires the trust and goodwill of the public.’
      • ‘What the Business Committee does is its business, but it is a relatively informal arrangement.’
      • ‘The real answer is for the Government to protect the post offices' core business.’
      • ‘It will be up to him to engage in the smoke-and-mirror business of political negotiation at a European level in the next week.’
      • ‘Brousse gave the impression of being a man in charge of his business.’
      • ‘Agencies of the state, in the course of their business, are required to keep a running record of their areas of activity.’
      • ‘In my business the less you worry about making money the more likely you are to make it.’
      • ‘Her fortnight in the city passed quickly, a whirl of business and unavoidable social engagements.’
      • ‘This should help to filter the heavy volumes when schools resume business in September.’
      • ‘Nor was this the only business in which Bevan engaged in the course of that year.’
      • ‘It just seems to fly in the face of the way we do business as law enforcement officers.’
    2. 1.2A person's concern.
      ‘it's not my business to interfere’
      ‘the neighbors make it their business to know all about you’
      • ‘I did some other things that were on the list but those are none of your business.’
      • ‘He was about to tell him off, to tell him that what went on between him and Xavier was none of his business.’
      • ‘They all started to scold me for something which was totally none of their business.’
      • ‘I'm not an American and I'm not a Republican so in a way it is none of my business.’
      • ‘To be told as you have been that it's none of your business is ridiculous.’
      • ‘It's none of my business and if you ask me, stuff like that is meant to be secret.’
      • ‘My colleagues laugh at you, and people walk past as if you're none of their business.’
      • ‘Whatever was going to happen after they did their job was none of their business.’
      • ‘One of its aims is to help staff appreciate when problems they notice are private and none of their business or ours.’
      • ‘One of he things we forget is that what people think of us is none of our business.’
      • ‘The police may be there to uphold the law, but our personal beliefs are none of their business.’
      • ‘One of the ballet mothers has her nose in everyone's business no matter how personal it is.’
      • ‘Yes, but there is a whole bunch of people sitting at home saying it's none of my business.’
      • ‘If he does not manage to get his work done by a certain time, it is his own incompetence and none of my business.’
      • ‘I know that his personal well-being is none of my business, but somehow it's hard not to worry about Harry.’
      • ‘The location is a farm in deepest Pennsylvania, the season is summer and the year is none of your business.’
      • ‘We, as a society, cannot afford to turn our heads and claim it is none of our business.’
      • ‘It's none of our business to control what the NCC thinks or says about politics.’
      • ‘It's none of your business what goes on in the bedrooms of consenting adults.’
      • ‘Internal church or other religious affairs are simply no business whatsoever of any government.’
      concern, affair, responsibility, province, preserve, duty, function, task, assignment, obligation, problem, worry, lookout
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    3. 1.3Work that has to be done or matters that have to be attended to.
      ‘government business’
      ‘let's get down to business’
      • ‘This means I have to go out tomorrow to attend to my business, whether I like it or not.’
      • ‘Reluctantly, they did, leaving me to attend to some unfinished business.’
      • ‘Balloonist Rick Walczak plans to attend to some unfinished business in the next few weeks.’
      • ‘See, Graham is attending to some unfinished business, and helping some friends out at the same time.’
      • ‘Oh, may the workday pass quickly as there is serious business to attend to this evening.’
      • ‘Calcavecchia has had unfinished business to attend to in the transatlantic challenge for some time.’
      • ‘If you have no serious business to attend to the next day, i strongly advise you give this stuff a try.’
      • ‘Be that as it may, one can't help but wonder why Montserrat does not attend to its own business.’
      • ‘On Monday he took his son to his first day at school, and so yesterday was delayed in an office elsewhere by leftover business.’
      • ‘This year however she returned to school late due to business she had to attend back home.’
      • ‘Mr Crausby blamed changes to the benefits payment system for the decline of day-to-day post office business.’
      • ‘For six months, he attended to farm business, only playing rugby for Scotland.’
      • ‘She wrote a quick note saying she was sorry and that she had some business to attend to.’
      • ‘After giving up that business they attended a number of courses lasting from one to three days.’
      • ‘The participants in the competition went about their business quite as a matter of fact.’
      • ‘Father had a little bit of business to attend to so I spent two nights at the inn.’
      • ‘We were then told we could use the post office for routine business.’
      • ‘Nor was it a case of being called away to attend to urgent state business in Brussels.’
      • ‘We simply have more important business to attend to right now than nursing an old grudge.’
      • ‘It is also about the Post Office seeking to generate new business for itself.’
  • 2The practice of making one's living by engaging in commerce.

    ‘the world of business’
    ‘whom do you do business with in Manila?’
    ‘the jewelry business’
    [as modifier] ‘the business community’
    • ‘But such extra burdens hardly help business, which now needs to lobby for joined-up tax reform.’
    • ‘Warlords enjoy a situation of anarchy in which they can threaten the local population and engage in illegal business.’
    • ‘He cites the response of business to environmental concerns over the past decade.’
    • ‘I am going to be away just for one day and it would have been nice to add on some social activity with the business.’
    • ‘The Minister for Sport appears to be driven by business rather than sporting concerns.’
    • ‘The Government wants to enhance the capability of polytechs to engage with business and industry.’
    • ‘Business representatives heard that demands on business have never been higher.’
    • ‘So then what of the world of business, trade, professions, academia and research?’
    • ‘He did not engage in any business activities outside of his employment duties with the defendant.’
    • ‘Then there's Lord Haskin's task force, attempting to reduce the burden of regulation on business.’
    • ‘As a market trader I understand business and running the town would require a sense of business.’
    • ‘But he is not impressed by the track record of the Scottish parliament on business.’
    • ‘Promising to give prizes or bonuses on business trading without permit is subject to a penalty of up to one year.’
    • ‘He believed it would have an adverse affect on business and trade in the community.’
    • ‘It would appear that new legislation regarding the payment of accounts has had no real effect on business.’
    • ‘We need to remove some of that regulation which is impacting on business.’
    • ‘He cannot recall if the Trust was ever engaged in any business or ever lent money.’
    • ‘Narang's experience in managing business came in handy for his new assignment.’
    • ‘He believed it would have adverse effect on business and trade in the community.’
    • ‘Over half the stock required repairs and business would be effected for weeks, Mr Nicholls said.’
    trade, trading, commerce, buying and selling, dealing, traffic, trafficking, marketing, merchandising, bargaining
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    1. 2.1Trade considered in terms of its volume or profitability.
      ‘how's business?’
      • ‘They are competing in terms of business but will join together when it will help to bring about benefits for retail across the board.’
      • ‘What is particularly striking is the bounce in expectations concerning future business.’
      • ‘In a desperate attempt to boost business, Scott commissions Hayley to create some rather snazzy pamphlets.’
      • ‘Getting higher volumes of business at lunchtime is another priority.’
      • ‘The carnage had a huge cost in terms of lost business, but it worked wonders for the bottom line.’
      • ‘Can you imagine automatically giving the Best Picture Oscar to the film that did the most business at the box office?’
      • ‘Liberal Democrat Andrew Waller said plans were in hand for York council to push more business to post offices.’
      • ‘People were late for work, meetings were delayed, funerals were missed and business was affected.’
      • ‘It believes there are too many post offices for too little business.’
      • ‘Insiders denied the Midland was losing business in the increasingly competitive luxury hotel market.’
      • ‘According to several designers this has been one of the best fashion weeks in terms of business.’
      • ‘Although it may make good business in the short term it will ultimately cost in the long term.’
      • ‘My concern is that business is now very slow and I would like to build it back up.’
      • ‘The company hopes the deal will lead to new business in the medium term.’
      • ‘Ahead of the opening of European markets traders were divided over the likely volume of business.’
      • ‘If this is the normal volume of business, can this venture be viable?’
      • ‘Both wore the aura of violent gang life and that meant good box office business.’
      • ‘In business terms this club would bankrupt with them and O'Riordan at the helm.’
      • ‘The bush telegraph has never made so much money; telecomms deregulation has no effect on volume business.’
      • ‘It seemed a daft idea and the film did indifferent business at the box office.’
    2. 2.2A commercial operation or company.
      ‘a catering business’
      • ‘From that time he has managed and run his business from Hong Kong where his principal activity is in shipping.’
      • ‘As a matter of course, business owners protect themselves against health problems and loss of income.’
      • ‘Like any other business the Post Office must move with the times and respond to customer pressures.’
      • ‘Training people to provide quality services costs, but that should be going on in any business as a matter of course.’
      • ‘The business he took charge of three decades ago was a small family-owned publisher of four local papers.’
      • ‘It is not a satisfactory way of proceeding as far as our business is concerned.’
      • ‘We would urge anyone seeking a loan to be wary of any business which requires an advance fee to be paid by money transfer to secure a loan.’
      • ‘He was in charge of his family business, a mining company with no interest in politics.’
      • ‘He says it has made inroads into niche markets and scores highly on business banking, wealth management and mortgages.’
      • ‘A city is composed of units too, people and houses and businesses and all the rest.’
      • ‘Several rival operators have put their businesses on the market in the hope of cashing in.’
      • ‘But business owners are more concerned about the time it takes just to keep up to date and comply with the new rules.’
      • ‘With conventional companies receivers attempt to preserve or sell the business as a going concern.’
      • ‘Transitory relief on business rates bills hide the real cost in future years.’
      • ‘New Labour prefers to give state money to private businesses to run public services.’
      • ‘As far as our business is concerned, he said that the money he owes us will be paid by Christmas.’
      • ‘As far as my dreams for our business are concerned, it's a case of what will be will be.’
      • ‘In a surprise move Aberdeen will keep the tarnished Edinburgh brand alive in a bid to retain its investment trust business.’
      • ‘Now ATS employs more than 110 staff, of which about half are engaged in the retail business.’
      • ‘A shop owner who does not attend could see his business shut down for days.’
      firm, company, concern, enterprise, venture, organization, operation, undertaking, industry, corporation, establishment, house, shop, office, bureau, agency, franchise, practice, partnership, consortium, cooperative, conglomerate, group, combine, syndicate
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  • 3informal [in singular] An affair or series of events, typically a scandalous or discreditable one.

    ‘they must be told about this blackmailing business’
    • ‘In a word, I have to invite the reader to come in backward upon the whole business.’
    • ‘Worse still, his acceptance speech demonstrated that he takes the whole business far too seriously.’
    • ‘Then I can contact the Environmental Health Unit who will consider how to handle the whole business.’
    • ‘Very quickly it all began to get out of hand and we came to a group decision that it was time to knock the whole business on the head and take up some new enthusiasm.’
    • ‘I speak only for myself, but this particular responsible voter soon became disgusted with the whole business.’
    • ‘After just a couple of days, Ashdown notes wearily, the whole business feels as if it has been dragging on for weeks.’
    • ‘They think we are inured to the whole business and, in any case, suffused with a boredom with the political process.’
    • ‘Visitors to the Jorvik Centre take the whole business very seriously.’
    • ‘The first thing he does is explain that electronics is incidental to the business of computation.’
    • ‘The other good thing about the business is the advent of the WWE's DVD strength.’
    • ‘What happened to the business about his taking the Viscount's passports?’
    • ‘You see I'm no lawyer, but I happen to know that the business of court cases is a process.’
    • ‘Fifa, however, is showing every sign of being somewhat less than neutral about the whole business.’
    • ‘Older people especially are tempted to ignore the whole business and get on with a microchip-free life.’
    • ‘But the whole business has been more rushed, and they have the added pressure of fitting in a filming schedule.’
    • ‘And soon, the whole business of confession has become polluted with falsity and madness.’
    • ‘Evans will meet SFO detectives early next month in the hope that the whole business can be cleared up quickly.’
    • ‘Well, he could be right, but another scenario can be that many see the whole business as largely irrelevant.’
    • ‘Of course, the business of extramarital affairs was pretty high on the list.’
    • ‘She found the whole business of arguing backward and forward about the same detail utterly boring.’
    affair, matter, thing, issue, case, set of circumstances, circumstance, situation, occasion, experience, event, incident, happening, occurrence, phenomenon, eventuality, episode, interlude, adventure
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    1. 3.1A group of related or previously mentioned things.
      ‘use carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, and serve the whole business hot’
      • ‘This whole business about saying hello and saying goodbye is tiresome.’
      • ‘She has been very quiet throughout this whole business, she has kept silent in the hope that this would help her get bail.’
      • ‘I realised then all over again just how vexed this whole business of Indianness actually is.’
      • ‘What really interests me in this whole business is the question of where this editing behaviour will end.’
      • ‘I love the way he tells a story and doesn't with the whole rhyme business.’
      • ‘Talk Politics has a good post on His Bobness, Blair and the whole G8 business.’
  • 4theatrical slang Actions other than dialogue performed by actors.

    ‘a piece of business’
    • ‘What these critics are missing is the stage business that occurs during the dialogue.’
    • ‘When you are sending up a recognisable piece of comedy business, based on another film, is permission needed?’
    • ‘Like Marmite, you either savour this daft stage business or you wish its energy was never let out of the jar.’
    • ‘Moreover, it deliberately made use of the modern in its stage business.’
  • 5informal A scolding; harsh verbal criticism.

    ‘the supervisor really gave him the business’
    • ‘But, the rest of the group was rather unforgiving and gave him "the business" for the entire rest of the trip, even though he had more than compensated for his tardiness by doing much of the digging and pulling of luggage.’
    • ‘At Rice-Eccles Stadium, he spent as much time as he could on the field, near the sidelines, where Ute fans gave him the business, and he gave it back.’
    • ‘The irreverent New York Daily News gave him the business, in a full-column editorial.’
    • ‘Either way Kobe gave him the business.’


  • business as usual

    • An unchanging state of affairs despite difficulties or disturbances.

      ‘apart from being under new management, it's business as usual in the department’
      • ‘So the official line was that it will be business as usual despite the warning.’
      • ‘We can give in to inertia, even just the inertia of routine and business as usual.’
      • ‘Does this suggest that the press is kind of inching back towards business as usual?’
      • ‘He said after a meeting on Wednesday night that it would be business as usual despite the ongoing situation.’
      • ‘Regardless of the outcome, it is difficult to envisage the resumption of business as usual afterwards.’
      • ‘The fact is that Montserrat now faces circumstances that cannot be treated like business as usual.’
      • ‘She says it will be business as usual once all the regulation safety checks have been done.’
      • ‘But it is not quite business as usual, despite the best efforts to pretend that it is.’
      • ‘At Manchester Airport it was business as usual despite a four-day walkout by security staff.’
      • ‘According to management, the club is undergoing renovations but is open for business as usual.’
      a normal state of affairs, business as usual, the daily round, routine, a normal pattern, order, regularity
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  • have no business

    • Have no right to do something or be somewhere.

      ‘he had no business tampering with social services’
      • ‘There are those who say that religionists have no business in politics.’
      • ‘They fail to discourage behaviour which harms others while getting more and more involved in trying to control private behaviour where they have no business to interfere.’
      • ‘The Supreme Court reaffirmed its position that corporations have no business in our elections trying to influence our vote.’
      • ‘Since these auto parts makers rely so heavily on such a small number of companies to sell to, they have no business but to actively involve in cutting their own throats.’
      • ‘If some people eat meat, animal lovers have no business to object.’
      • ‘In fact, Congress has specifically said that federal courts have no business in probate issues.’
      • ‘There are certain areas where courts and bureaucrats have no business.’
      • ‘Children whose parents are still alive should have no business on the streets.’
      • ‘I think Trudeau's philosophy of the government having no business in the bedrooms of this nation isn't such a bad idea.’
      • ‘I have no business with anything that is in a customer's pocket.’
  • in business

    • 1Operating, especially in commerce.

      ‘they will have to import from overseas to remain in business’
      • ‘He said he would have remained in business if trade had continued to grow at the rate it was before the roadworks.’
      • ‘She fails to ask whether drugs companies would remain in business if they had no patents.’
      • ‘It's hard to imagine the service remaining in business as we know it in either case.’
      • ‘Unless the consumer sees what he desires, the business owner will not be able to stay in business.’
      • ‘He might not be able to save your sodden carpets or your fire-damaged stock, but he will be able to keep you in business.’
      • ‘The fact that he remains in business is testimony to him being broadly right.’
      • ‘But he is not in business just to manage resource, he is in business to police London in all its entirety.’
      • ‘Those who cannot keep their customers happy do not deserve to remain in business.’
      • ‘I don't think you'd ever see me in business again if I failed in this company.’
      • ‘Should we help to start new businesses, or only those who are already in business?’
      1. 1.1informal Able to begin operations.
        ‘if you'll contact the right people, I think we'll be in business’
        • ‘When you buy a PhaseOne Package we will give you a wide format printer, now you're in business!’
        • ‘You've gained entry and accepted your offer - now you're in business and the work really starts.’
        • ‘So you've purchased a digital camcorder, hooked it up to your PC and now you're in business.’
        • ‘Another 15 minutes of piped music, and now we're in business.’
        • ‘Instantly on arrival at Balmoor an hour before kick-off there was evidence that this cup tie was in business.’
  • in the business of

    • Engaged in or prepared to engage in.

      ‘I am not in the business of making accusations’
      • ‘We all are in the business of food production and food preparation for the long term.’
      • ‘They are not in the business of plundering the past, they are in the business of rescuing large lumps of history from the wrecking ball.’
      • ‘We're in the business of consciously and unconsciously changing our memories everyday.’
      • ‘So much so that he is now engaged in the business of giving a few lessons to those in the Capital ready to explore the world of wines.’
      • ‘We believe that the courts should be in the business of interpreting the law, not making it.’
      • ‘Such words provide comfort to those in the business of hiding money for wealthy clients.’
      • ‘They're in the business of managing the media and they get all the information they can.’
      • ‘Who knows more about the business of being an entrepreneur than those in the business of farming?’
      • ‘If you're in the business of building software, user dissatisfaction quite simply equates to reduced sales.’
      • ‘As far as I'm concerned we shouldn't be in the business of further feeding what are already pretty plump cats.’
  • like nobody's business

    • informal To an extraordinarily high degree or standard.

      ‘these weeds spread like nobody's business’
      • ‘I'm picking up the pace like nobody's business.’
      • ‘And the woman can starch a collar like nobody's business.’
      • ‘At the moment we just can't keep up with the demand, so we're expanding like nobody's business.’
      • ‘But he loved that thing like nobody's business.’
      • ‘‘On the day itself, it was raining like nobody's business,’ he said.’
      • ‘I bet I could draw jam-pots like nobody's business.’
      • ‘It's dense, too, so even though I breeze through most books like nobody's business, I'm not doing that on this one, and that's a good thing, a good feeling.’
      • ‘They're giving stuff away like nobody's business.’
      • ‘The land is chalky too, which makes those grapes bubble like nobody's business.’
      • ‘Brenda Watson, 39, said: ‘They go through here like nobody's business.’’
  • mean business

    • Be in earnest.

      • ‘Google shifts focus to show it means business.’
      • ‘The 100 British companies that are here today are hard evidence of the fact that Britain really does mean business.’
      • ‘Community colleges mean business.’
      • ‘Eight businesses were based in Michigan, seven in New York, nineteen in Colorado, and fifteen in Montana, showing that salmon mean business across the nation.’
      • ‘This team means business. We are not there to show off. We want to achieve something together.’
    • Be in earnest.

      • ‘She had a way about herself, which told me that she meant business.’
      • ‘When it came to books, Ms. Hensley meant business.’
      • ‘Unlike his comrades, he clearly meant business.’
      • ‘By the look on his face, he could tell I meant business.’
      • ‘She wasn't smiling, so I knew she meant business.’
      • ‘When that went away, it seemed like they meant business.’
      • ‘Well, it didn't take long for us to realize they meant business, and they started clearing stuff up right away.’
      • ‘Jonas saw that his chief meant business right now.’
      • ‘He thought we were playing some sort of silly joke on him, but we meant business.’
      • ‘The look on his handsome face told her he meant business.’
  • mind one's own business

    • Refrain from meddling in other people's affairs.

      ‘he was yelling at her to get out and mind her own business’
      • ‘Unlike the other women in the town, Maudie minds her own business and behaves without pretension or hypocrisy.’
      • ‘His statement should be vehemently condemned by all, and he should be asked to mind his own business.’
      • ‘He is not, technically, ‘poor’ or ‘weak, he minds his own business, and makes no complaint.’’
      • ‘Fortunately, not everyone minds his own business, and one day I was approached by just such a person.’
      • ‘There's an older gentleman sitting next to me, seeming to be trying to mind his own business too.’
      • ‘We are a commercial republic of free citizens who, on the whole, prefer to mind our own business.’
      • ‘Now, the correct response to that comment might have been a stern rejoinder to mind her own business.’
      • ‘Mya definitely thought something was up, but Darnell thought his wife needed to mind her own business.’
      • ‘By neighbors’ accounts, Jamie keeps quiet and minds her own business, but the board stood firm.’
      • ‘‘Nicole usually minds her own business, but she made an exception in this case.’’
    • Refrain from prying or interfering.

      • ‘I asked him once if that was true, if he really was once a royal guard but he scolded me and told me to mind my own business.’
      • ‘He told her to be silent and mind her own business.’
  • be none of one's business

    • Not be of direct relevance or concern to one.

      ‘their finances are none of your business’
      ‘what goes on between Gabriel and me is none of your business’
      • ‘My own belief is that the board's first response should have been that the whole matter was none of its business.’
      • ‘I admit the whole situation is interesting, but it is really none of our business.’
      • ‘He had chosen to speak about something that is none of his business.’
      • ‘"My real name is none of your damned business," she said.’
      • ‘His personal life is none of my business, nor am I interested in it.’
      • ‘The principle was essentially that if other people were different, then this was none of your business so long as they kept their nose out of yours.’
      • ‘He screamed at me that it was none of my business how he spent his money.’
      • ‘Tell your housekeeper that my behaviour is none of her business.’
      • ‘People's sexual orientation is none of our business.’
      • ‘I can take care of myself, thank you very much, and technically this is none of your business.’
      • ‘What I do is none of your business.’
  • send someone about his/her business

    • dated Tell someone to go away.

      • ‘"None but them I can send about their business if you wish," replied the man.’
      • ‘They are declaimers and speechifiers, whom I will send about their business.’
      • ‘Servants who lingered to ask unnecessary questions were sharply sent about their business.’
      • ‘They were disarmed and sent about their business.’
      • ‘But Steward-of-the-Games Rutilianus sent them about their business ungarlanded, and continued the defunct Alexander in possession of his holy office.’


Old English bisignis (see busy, -ness). The sense in Old English was anxiety; the sense the state of being busy was used from Middle English down to the 18th century, but is now differentiated as busyness. The sense an appointed task dates from late Middle English, and from it all the other current senses have developed.