DEFINITION of 'Tycoon'

A prominent figure in a particular industry who has built up substantial wealth and power while building a business empire. Tycoons are often associated with key industries, such as steel, railroads, oil and mining.

The word tycoon is based on "taikun," a Japanese term used to describe shoguns.


Describing an individual as a tycoon became popular during the Industrial Revolution, when small scale manufacturing gave way to mechanized manufacturing on an industrial scale. Tycoons were both popularized and demonized during the Gilded Age, and public opinion on the business practices of tycoons led to regulation of child labor and monopolies.

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