A company, abbreviated as co., is a legal entity made up of an association of people, be they natural, legal, or a mixture of both, for carrying on a commercial or industrial enterprise. Company members share a common purpose, and unite to focus their various talents and organize their collectively available skills or resources to achieve specific, declared goals. Companies take various forms, such as:

A company or association of persons can be created at law as a legal person so that the company in itself can accept limited liability for civil responsibility and taxation incurred as members perform (or fail to discharge) their duty within the publicly declared "birth certificate" or published policy.

Companies as legal persons may associate and register themselves collectively as other companies – often known as a corporate group. When a company closes, it may need a "death certificate" to avoid further legal obligations.

Meanings and definitions

One can define a company as an "artificial person", invisible, intangible, created by or under law,[1] with a discrete legal personality, perpetual succession, and a common seal.[citation needed] Companies remain unaffected by the death, insanity, or insolvency of an individual member.


The English word company has its origins in the Old French term compagnie (first recorded in 1150), meaning a "society, friendship, intimacy; body of soldiers",[2] which came from the Late Latin word companio ("one who eats bread with you"), first attested in the Lex Salica (c. 500 CE) as a calque of the Germanic expression gahlaibo (literally, "with bread"), related to Old High German galeipo ("companion") and to Gothic gahlaiba ("messmate").

Semantics and usage

By 1303, the word referred to trade guilds.[3] Usage of the term company to mean "business association" was first recorded in 1553,[4] and the abbreviation "co." dates from 1769.[5][6]

United Kingdom

In English law and in legal jurisdictions based upon it, a company is a body corporate or corporation company registered under the Companies Acts or under similar legislation.[7] Common forms include:

In the United Kingdom, a partnership is not legally a company, but may sometimes be referred to[by whom?] informally as a company. It may be referred to as a firm.

United States

In the United States, 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".[8][9] In the US, a company is not necessarily a corporation.[10]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Maatskappy
العربية: شركة
armãneashti: Cumpanie
azərbaycanca: Şirkət
বাংলা: কোম্পানি
Bân-lâm-gú: Kong-si
беларуская: Фірма
bosanski: Kompanija
Ελληνικά: Εταιρεία
Esperanto: Kompanio
euskara: Enpresa
فارسی: شرکت
Gaeilge: Comhlacht
Gaelg: Colught
ગુજરાતી: કંપની (કાયદો)
한국어: 회사
Hausa: Kamfani
हिन्दी: कंपनी
Bahasa Indonesia: Badan usaha
Kiswahili: Kampuni
Кыргызча: Фирма
lietuvių: Bendrovė
मराठी: कंपनी
Bahasa Melayu: Syarikat
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Gŭng-sĭ
Nederlands: Vennootschap
नेपाली: कम्पनि
日本語: 会社
norsk nynorsk: Selskap
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Kompaniya
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਕੰਪਨੀ
پښتو: ملتون
Patois: Kompini
polski: Spółka
română: Companie
Runa Simi: Ruruchina
русский: Фирма
Scots: Company
sicilianu: Azzenna
සිංහල: සමාගම
Simple English: Company
سنڌي: ڪمپني
Soomaaliga: Shirkad
српски / srpski: Предузеће
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Kompanija
svenska: Bolag
татарча/tatarça: Şirkät
Türkçe: Şirket
українська: Фірма
اردو: کمپنی
Tiếng Việt: Công ty
文言: 公司
West-Vlams: Vennootschap
吴语: 公司
ייִדיש: פירמע
粵語: 公司
中文: 公司