AskDefine | Define company

Dictionary Definition



1 an institution created to conduct business; "he only invests in large well-established companies"; "he started the company in his garage"
2 organization of performers and associated personnel (especially theatrical); "the traveling company all stayed at the same hotel" [syn: troupe]
3 the state of being with someone; "he missed their company"; "he enjoyed the society of his friends" [syn: companionship, fellowship, society]
4 small military unit; usually two or three platoons
5 a band of people associated temporarily in some activity; "they organized a party to search for food"; "the company of cooks walked into the kitchen" [syn: party]
6 a social gathering of guests or companions; "the house was filled with company when I arrived"
7 a social or business visitor; "the room was a mess because he hadn't expected company" [syn: caller]
8 a unit of firefighters including their equipment; "a hook-and-ladder company"
9 crew of a ship including the officers; the whole force or personnel of a ship [syn: ship's company] v : be a companion to somebody [syn: companion, accompany, keep company]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /"kVmp@ni/
  • /'kʌmpəni/


compaignie (French: compagnie), from companio it is "the person you share your bread"


  1. A group of individuals with a common purpose, as in a company of actors.
  2. In legal context, an entity that manufactures or sells products (also known as goods), or provides services as a commercial venture. A corporation.
  3. In non-legal context, any business, without respect to incorporation.
  4. Social visitors.
    • Keep the house clean, I have company coming.
  5. companionship
    • I treasure your company.
  6. A military unit, typically consisting of two or three platoons.
    • The Boys in Company C.
  7. A unit of firefighters and their equipment.
    • It took six companies to put out the fire.
  8. The entire crew of a ship.
  9. Nickname for an intelligence service.
    • As he had worked for the CIA for over 30 years, he would soon take retirement from the company.


in legal context, a corporation
  • Czech: společnost
  • Dutch: bedrijf, zaak, firma
  • Finnish: yhtiö
  • French: société, entreprise, firme, compagnie
  • German: Gesellschaft, Firma, Unternehmen
  • Greek: εταιρία
  • Hebrew: חברה (khevra)
  • Interlingua: compania
  • Japanese: 会社 (かいしゃ, kaisha)
  • Korean: 회사 (hwesa)
  • Kurdish: şirket, pargîdanî, fîrma, kompanya, şirîke
  • Polish: kompania , firma , przedsiębiorstwo
  • Portuguese: companhia
  • Russian: компания, фирма, общество, товарищество
  • Spanish: empresa
  • Turkish: işletme
  • Ukrainian: товариство (towarystwo) , діло (dilo)
in non-legal context, any business, without respect to incorporation
group of individuals with a common purpose
social visitors
  • Dutch: gezelschap
  • Finnish: kumppanuus
  • French: compagnie
  • German: Gesellschaft
  • Greek: συντροφικότητα, παρέα, φιλία
  • Interlingua: compania
  • Irish: cumann
  • Japanese: 仲間 (なかま, nakama)
  • Portuguese: companhia
  • Russian: компания, общество
  • Ukrainian: товариство (towarystwo)
military unit
unit of firefighters and their equipment

Extensive Definition

Generally, a company is a form of business organization. The precise definition varies.
In the United States, a company is "a corporation—or, less commonly, an association, partnership, or union—that carries on a commercial or industrial enterprise." Generally, a company may be a "corporation, partnership, association, joint-stock company, trust, fund, or organized group of persons, whether incorporated or not, and (in an official capacity) any receiver, trustee in bankruptcy, or similar official, or liquidating agent, for any of the foregoing."


According to one source, "it may be formed by Act of Parliament, by Royal Charter, or by registration under company law (referred to as a limited liability or joint-stock company)."
In North America, two of the earliest companies were The London Company (also called the Charter of the Virginia Company of London)—an English joint stock company established by royal charter by James I of England on April 10, 1606 with the purpose of establishing colonial settlements in North America—and Plymouth Company that was granted an identical charter as part of the Virginia Company. The London Company was responsible for establishing the Jamestown Settlement, the first permanent English settlement in the present United States in 1607, and in the process of sending additional supplies, inadvertently settled the Somers Isles, alias Bermuda, the oldest-remaining English colony, in 1609.


For a country-by-country listing, see Types of business entity.
There are various types of company that can be formed in different jurisdictions, but the most common forms of company (generally formed by registration under applicable companies legislation) are:
  • A company limited by shares. The most common form of company used for business ventures. Specifically, a limited company is a "company in which the liability of each shareholder is limited to the amount individually invested" with corporations being "the most common example of a limited company."
  • An unlimited liability company. A company where the liability of members for the debts of the company are unlimited. Today these are only seen in rare and unusual circumstances.
Less commonly seen types of companies are:
  • charter corporations. Before the passing of modern companies legislation, these were the only types of companies. Now they are relatively rare, except for very old companies that still survive (of which there are still many, particularly many British banks), or modern societies that fulfil a quasi regulatory function (for example, the Bank of England is a corporation formed by a modern charter).
  • Statutory Companies. Relatively rare today, certain companies have been formed by a private statute passed in the relevant jurisdiction.
  • Companies formed by letters patent. Most corporations by letters patent are corporations sole and not companies as the term is commonly understood today.
Note that "Ltd after the company's name signifies limited, and PLC (public limited company) indicates that its shares are widely held."
In legal parlance, the owners of a company are normally referred to as the "members". In a company limited by shares, this will be the shareholders. In a company limited by guarantee, this will be the guarantors. Some offshore jurisdictions have created special forms of offshore company in a bid to attract business for their jurisdictions. Examples include "segregated portfolio companies" and restricted purpose companies.
There are however, many, many sub-categories of types of company that can be formed in various jurisdictions in the world.
Companies are also sometimes distinguished for legal and regulatory purposes between public companies and private companies. Public companies are companies whose shares can be publicly traded, often (although not always) on a regulated stock exchange. Private companies do not have publicly traded shares, and often contain restrictions on transfers of shares. In some jurisdictions, private companies have maximum numbers of shareholders.


External links

Further reading

  • Dignam, A and Lowry, J (2006) Company Law, Oxford University Press ISBN-13: 978-0-19-928936-3.
  • John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, The Company: a Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (New York: Modern Library, 2003)
company in Bulgarian: Компания
company in Bosnian: Kompanija
company in Danish: Virksomhed
company in German: Kompanie (Unternehmen)
company in Modern Greek (1453-): Εταιρία
company in Spanish: Empresa comercial
company in Finnish: Yritys
company in French: Entreprise
company in Hebrew: חברה (תאגיד)
company in Croatian: Poduzeće
company in Italian: Azienda
company in Japanese: 企業
company in Latvian: Uzņēmums
company in Dutch: Vennootschap
company in Polish: Spółka
company in Russian: Компания
company in Serbian: Предузеће
company in Swedish: Företag
company in Turkish: Şirket
company in Vietnamese: Công ty
company in Chinese: 公司
company in Ukrainian: Господарське товариство

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Aktiengesellschaft, KP, ace, acting company, actors, affiliation, age group, agency, aggregation, aktiebolag, amigo, army, army group, assemblage, assembly, associate, associates, association, atelier, attend, attendance, band, barbershop, battalion, battery, battle group, bear, beauty parlor, beauty shop, bedfellow, bedmate, bench, bevy, body, body corporate, bosom buddy, brigade, bring, buddy, bunch, bunkie, bunkmate, business, business establishment, butcher shop, butty, cabal, cadre, caller, camarade, camaraderie, carry, cartel, cast, cast of characters, chamber of commerce, chamberfellow, chaperon, characters, chorus, chum, circle, circus troupe, classmate, clique, club, cohort, colleague, collection, column, comate, combat command, combat team, combine, commercial enterprise, community, compagnie, companion, companions, companionship, compeer, complement, comrade, comrades, comradeship, concern, conduct, confrere, conglomerate, conglomerate corporation, congregation, consociate, consociation, consolidating company, consort, consort with, consortium, consortship, contingent, convention, convoy, cooperation, copartner, copartnership, corporate body, corporation, corps, corps de ballet, coterie, covey, crew, crony, crowd, desk, detachment, detail, diversified corporation, division, dramatis personae, eight, eleven, ensemble, enterprise, entourage, establishment, facility, faction, fellow, fellow student, fellowship, field army, field train, file, firm, first string, first team, five, fleet, flock, flying column, followers, following, fraternity, fraternization, freeloader, frequenter, friends, gang, garrison, gate-crasher, gathering, girl friend, gossip, group, grouping, groupment, guest, guests, habitue, holding company, horde, house, in-group, industry, installation, institution, joint-stock association, joint-stock company, junta, kitchen police, legion, loft, maniple, mate, membership, messmate, mob, moocher, movement, muster, nine, old crony, operating company, order, organization, out-group, outfit, pack, pal, pard, pardner, parlor, partaking, participation, partner, partnership, party, peer group, phalanx, platoon, playfellow, playmate, plunderbund, pool, posse, presence, proprietorship, public utility, rank, regiment, repertory company, reserves, retinue, roommate, rowing crew, ruck, salon, schoolfellow, schoolmate, second string, second team, section, set, sharing, shipmate, shop, side partner, sidekick, society, squad, squadron, stable, stock company, string, studio, suite, supporting cast, sweatshop, syndicate, tactical unit, task force, team, teammate, third string, throng, trade association, train, tribe, troop, troupe, trust, uninvited guest, unit, utility, varsity, visitant, visitor, visitors, wing, work site, work space, workbench, workfellow, workhouse, working space, workplace, workroom, workshop, worktable, yokefellow, yokemate
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