A company is a business organization. It is an association or collection of individual real persons and/or other companies, who each provide some form of capital. This group has a common purpose or focus and an aim of gaining profits. This collection, group or association of persons can be made to exist in law and then a company is itself considered a "legal person". The name company arose because, at least originally, it represented or was owned by more than one real or legal person. 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." In the US, a company is not necessarily a corporation. In English law and in the Commonwealth realms a company is a body corporate or corporation company registered under the Companies Acts or similar legislation. It does not include a partnership or any other unincorporated group of persons, although such an entity may be loosely described as a company.
A company can be defined as an "artificial person", invisible, intangible, created by or under Law, with a discrete legal entity, perpetual succession and a common seal. It is not affected by the death, insanity or insolvency of an individual member. The English word has its origins in the Old French military term compaignie (first recorded in 1150), meaning a "body of soldiers", originally taken from the Late Latin word companio "companion, one who eats bread with you", first attested in the Lex Salica as a calque of the Germanic expression *gahlaibo (literally, "with bread"), related to Old High German galeipo "companion" and Gothic gahlaiba "messmate". By 1303, the word referred to trade guilds. Usage of company to mean "business association" was first recorded in 1553 and the abbreviation "co." dates from 1769. (The equivalent French abbreviation is "cie".)
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