Danish word of the day: Entreprenør

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Danish word of the day: Entreprenør

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

Today’s word of the day might be a false friend, depending on what business you’re in.


What is entreprenør? 

The Danish entreprenør is, like “entrepreneur” in English, a loan word from French.

The French word entrepreneur comes from the verb entreprendre means something like “to take on a job”. It is a compound of entre, meaning “between” in French, and prendre, “to take”, from the Latin prehendre which means to take or grasp.

As such, the concepts of “entering an agreement” and “taking a job” are combined in the word entrepreneur and it is this spirit of the word that should be kept in mind when you come across its Danish equivalent, entreprenør.

Why do I need to know entreprenør?

If you’re a native English speaker and hear this word, you’ll probably immediately think of an individual who has their own business, who maybe runs more than one company and who possibly has tried their luck in a number of different sectors.

It’s also associated with a certain amount of financial risk taking or otherwise risky decisions to get the business off the ground.

Whatever the case, an entrepreneur might own a company in the farming, retail, manufacturing or service sector.


This is where entreprenør can be a false friend, because it only applies in Danish to businesses in the construction sector.

As such, and in line with the “taking on a job” interpretation of the word from French, a more accurate translation of entreprenør in English would, in most cases, be “contractor” or "subcontractor".

With this in mind, the next time you see “ENTREPRENØRFIRMA” written down the side of a works vehicle, there’s no need to be concerned: the company isn’t trying out its luck in the construction trade but is a genuine contractor, and is probably specialised in a specific type of building service.


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