Encountered in Barbara Ehrenreich’s latest book, Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, in a section on “corporate churches” (p. 137):

The decline of mainstream church membership in the latter part of the twentieth century prodded a new generation of self-styled “pastorpreneurs” to try a fresh approach based on “strategic thinking” and “the aggressive goals of business.”

I hadn’t noticed pastorpreneur before, but it’s been around for at least a few years and is pretty well attested on the net. Grant Barrett’s Double-Tongued Dictionary has an entry for it, with a 2006 cite and a comment tracing the word back to a 2003 book.

Pastorpreneur looks like a portmanteau of pastor and entrepreneur, and its meaning is close to ‘pastor-entrepreneur’ or ‘entrepreneurial pastor’.

It turns out that there are more –preneur words out there — or more generally,

– ( ( ( t ) r ) e ) preneur


But first, some further comments on pastorpreneur.

Barrett’s 2006 quote is from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Defined by their size—usually more than 2000 attendees a week—as well as spectacular music performances and charismatic preachers, these churches regularly provide fodder for critics, with marketing surveys, wealth-creation advice and priests who call themselves “pastorpreneurs.”

The 2003 book is John Jackson’s PastorPreneur: Outreach Beyond Business as Usual (Baxter Press), now out in a 2009 paperback edition (Abingdon Press). Jackson, senior pastor of the Carson Valley Christian Center in Minden, Nevada, takes credit for coining the word:

I believe that I’m actually the originator of the word and published a book of that title …; my definition is the following:

As I have shared my vision for change with a number of pastors, some have called this “an entrepreneurial strategy for churches.” It combines the aggressive goals of business with God’s heart for people. I later merged these ideas and coined the term pastorpreneur. A pastorpreneur is a pastoral innovator, a creative dreamer who is willing to take great risks in church ministry with the hope of great gain for Christ and his kingdom.

Also in the Double-Tongued Dictionary are:

alterpreneur, con-trepreneur, grantepreneur, grantrepreneur, innerpreneur, mama-preneur, momtrepreneur

Here’s the 2006 cite in the entry for one of my favorites, mama-preneur (from a site that is no longer available on-line):

So many stay-at-home mothers are starting their own businesses nowadays that they’ve already got their own buzzword: Mama-preneurs. The new technology gives them the freedom to do just about anything at home.

And in my portmanteau file, an instance of teacherpreneur reported by Darla Wells to ADS-L on May 28, on a website in which entrepreneurial educator Don Berg describes himself:

Teacherpreneur, home schooled other people’s kids for about 5 years.

These examples are just the tip of the preneurial iceberg. Google turns up a large number of examples, including mom-preneur as another variant on the entrepreneurial mother theme, and also actor-preneur, writer-preneur, and food-preneur (these just from the first few pages of searching on “preneur”).

Please don’t just add further examples to the ones already given, which are only a tiny sampling. The point is that –preneur now has a life in vernacular (often somewhat jocular) English as some kind of independent element, “liberated” from portmanteaus with entrepreneur as the second source word. (Ah, but what kind of independent element? See below.)

A lot of the examples have a human-referring first element, but the meaning relationships are various. Some are close to simple intersective semantics, though with a twist: a mama-preneur is an entrepreneur who is a mama (well, a mother), but with a special relationship between her motherhood and her entrepreneurial activities. In others, the first element denotes a role (actor or writer, for instance) that someone exploits entrepreneurially. In still other combinations (food-preneur, for instance), the first element denotes something that is the object of the entrepreneurship.

No doubt there are more types. I’m not here to analyze the phenomenon in full, only to point to some of the issues.

Back to the question of the status of –preneur (and other liberated second portions of portmanteaus). As I noted in a posting a while back on –orama (with a passing mention of –eteria), such elements are often loosely referred to as suffixes, but they have many properties of words in compounds; Michael Quinion’s Ologies and Isms (on-line here) classifies them as suffixes on the basis of their position in words, but also labels them as “combining forms” on the grounds that they function in the same way as elements of compounds, except for being bound.

3 Responses to “preneurs”

  1. Linguick Says:

    Nice post. I’ve also come across “mompreneur”.

  2. twitter tweet « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

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  3. Inventory of libfix postings « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

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