What do English people call an association of two or more individuals or companies engaged in a solitary business enterprise for profit without actual partnership or incorporation?

Is there a single word to describe this association?

  • 2
    I think by default all such formations (company, LLP, conglomerate, etc) are considered 'for profit' that is, it is assumed for-profit and goes unsaid, and if it is not-for-profit it is almost always said, so that if there is no mention, then it's for-profit. So the word if needed would be 'for-profit' but is not really needed, implied by its absence.
    – Mitch
    Apr 18, 2012 at 21:31

2 Answers 2



  • Why the downvote?
    – user20276
    Apr 18, 2012 at 22:17

In addition to consortium (a correct term), cooperative and syndicate are suitable.

Also (and this not legal advice) in the US, at least, if two or more individuals engage in a business enterprise for profit, then this is an 'actual partnership' whether or not you file papers declaring such.

  • The same is pretty much true of Consortia though. They can be profit or not-for-profit. Apr 18, 2012 at 21:06
  • I don't know where you mean by "common". I myself work for a non-profit consortium, a common usage in Academia and Research. Apr 18, 2012 at 21:08
  • 1
    @NathanC.Tresch perhaps that is your experience, but without any data to back it up (and I would imagine there is none, since google returns a similar number of results for "non-profit consortium" and "for-profit consortium"), I think Mark's first comment is valid here.
    – Cameron
    Apr 18, 2012 at 21:45
  • Cleaned up, I'll delete this one also.
    – user20276
    Apr 18, 2012 at 21:52
  • 2
    +1 for the point (which I'm sure also applies in Britain) that from the state's point of view it's largely irrelevant whether the "consortium" (not a word which I think has any special legal meaning here) registers itself as a partnership, corporation, or whatever. So far as the state is concerned, if it walks, talks, and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. In the UK, once they've decided that they might even fine you for failing to register your "duckness" when you first became a duck! Apr 18, 2012 at 22:10

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