An entity is anything that claims independent existence (as opposed to merely being part of a whole), whether as a subject or as an object, actually or potentially, concretely or abstractly.

The term is broad in scope and may refer to animals; natural features like mountains; inanimate objects like tables; abstractions like numbers or sets; human contrivances like laws, corporations and academic disciplines; or supernatural beings like Gods and spirits.

The adjectival form is entitative and refers to something considered in its own right.


The word entity is derived from the Latin entitas, which in turn derives from the Latin ens meaning "being" or "existing" (compare English essence). Entity may hence literally be taken to mean "thing which exists".

In philosophy

Ontology is the study of being, existence and the recognition of entities. The words ontic and entity are derived respectively from the ancient Greek and Latin present participles that mean "being".

In law

In law, a legal entity is an entity that is capable of bearing legal rights and obligations, such as a natural person or an artificial person (e.g. business entity or a corporate entity).

In politics

In politics, entity is used as term for territorial divisions of some countries (e.g. Bosnia and Herzegovina).

In medicine

In medicine, a disease entity is an illness due to a particular definite cause or to a specific pathological process. While a disease entity is not defined by a syndrome, it may or may not be manifest in one or more particular syndromes.

See also

Administrative division

An administrative division, unit, entity, area or region, also referred to as a subnational entity, statoid, constituent unit, or country subdivision, is a portion of a country or other region delineated for the purpose of administration. Administrative divisions are granted a certain degree of autonomy and are usually required to manage themselves through their own local governments. Countries are divided up into these smaller units to make managing their land and the affairs of their people easier. A country may be divided into provinces, which, in turn, may be divided in whole or in part into municipalities.

Administrative divisions are conceptually separate from dependent territories, with the former being an integral part of the state and the other being only under some lesser form of control. However, the term "administrative division" can include dependent territories as well as accepted administrative divisions (for example, in geographical databases).

For clarity and convenience the standard neutral reference for the largest administrative subdivision of a country is called the "first-level administrative division" or "first administrative level". Next smaller is called "second-level administrative division" or "second administrative level".


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:

voluntary associations, which may include nonprofit organizations

business entities with an aim of gaining a profit

financial entities and banksA 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.


A corporation is an organization, usually a group of people or a company, authorized to act as a single entity (legally a person) and recognized as such in law. Early incorporated entities were established by charter (i.e. by an ad hoc act granted by a monarch or passed by a parliament or legislature). Most jurisdictions now allow the creation of new corporations through registration. Corporations enjoy limited liability for their investors, which can lead to losses being externalized from investors to the government or general public, while losses to investors are generally limited to the amount of their investment.Corporations come in many different types but are usually divided by the law of the jurisdiction where they are chartered into two kinds: by whether they can issue stock or not, or by whether they are formed to make a profit or not. Corporations can be divided by the number of owners: corporation aggregate or corporation sole. The subject of this article is a corporation aggregate. A corporation sole is a legal entity consisting of a single ("sole") incorporated office, occupied by a single ("sole") natural person.

Where local law distinguishes corporations by the ability to issue stock, corporations allowed to do so are referred to as "stock corporations", ownership of the corporation is through stock, and owners of stock are referred to as "stockholders" or "shareholders". Corporations not allowed to issue stock are referred to as "non-stock" corporations; those who are considered the owners of a non-stock corporation are persons (or other entities) who have obtained membership in the corporation and are referred to as a "member" of the corporation.

Corporations chartered in regions where they are distinguished by whether they are allowed to be for profit or not are referred to as "for profit" and "not-for-profit" corporations, respectively.

There is some overlap between stock/non-stock and for-profit/not-for-profit in that not-for-profit corporations are always non-stock as well. A for-profit corporation is almost always a stock corporation, but some for-profit corporations may choose to be non-stock. To simplify the explanation, whenever "Stockholder" or "shareholder" is used in the rest of this article to refer to a stock corporation, it is presumed to mean the same as "member" for a non-profit corporation or for a profit, non-stock corporation.

Registered corporations have legal personality and their shares are owned by shareholders whose liability is generally limited to their investment. Shareholders do not typically actively manage a corporation; shareholders instead elect or appoint a board of directors to control the corporation in a fiduciary capacity. In most circumstances, a shareholder may also serve as a director or officer of a corporation.

In American English, the word corporation is most often used to describe large business corporations. In British English and in the Commonwealth countries, the term company is more widely used to describe the same sort of entity while the word corporation encompasses all incorporated entities. In American English, the word company can include entities such as partnerships that would not be referred to as companies in British English as they are not a separate legal entity.

Late in the 19th century, a new form of company having the limited liability protections of a corporation, and the more favorable tax treatment of either a sole proprietorship or partnership was developed. While not a corporation, this new type of entity became very attractive as an alternative for corporations not needing to issue stock. In Germany, the organization was referred to as Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung or GmbH. In the last quarter of the 20th Century this new form of non-corporate organization became available in the United States and other countries, and was known as the limited liability company or LLC. Since the GmbH and LLC forms of organization are technically not corporations (even though they have many of the same features), they will not be discussed in this article.

Entity–relationship model

An entity–relationship model (ER model for short) describes interrelated things of interest in a specific domain of knowledge. A basic ER model is composed of entity types (which classify the things of interest) and specifies relationships that can exist between entities (instances of those entity types).

In software engineering, an ER model is commonly formed to represent things a business needs to remember in order to perform business processes. Consequently, the ER model becomes an abstract data model, that defines a data or information structure which can be implemented in a database, typically a relational database.

Entity–relationship modeling was developed for database design by Peter Chen and published in a 1976 paper. However, variants of the idea existed previously. Some ER models show super and subtype entities connected by generalization-specialization relationships, and an ER model can be used also in the specification of domain-specific ontologies.

Legal Entity Identifier

A Legal Entity Identifier (or LEI) is an international identifier made up of a 20-character identifier that identifies distinct legal entities that engage in financial transactions. It is defined by ISO 17442. Natural persons are not required to have an LEI; they’re eligible to have one issued, however, but only if they act in an independent business capacity. The LEI is a global standard, designed to be non-proprietary data that is freely accessible to all. As of December 2018, over 1,300,000 legal entities from more than 200 countries have now been issued with LEIs.

Legal person

A legal person (in legal contexts often simply person, less ambiguously legal entity) is any human or non-human entity, in other words, any human being, firm, or government agency that is recognized as having privileges and obligations, such as having the ability to enter into contracts, to sue, and to be sued.The term "legal person" is however ambiguous because it is also used in contradistinction to "natural person", i.e. as a synonym of terms used to refer only to non-human legal entities.So there are of two kinds of legal entities, human and non-human: natural persons (also called physical persons) and juridical persons (also called juridic, juristic, artificial, legal, or fictitious persons, Latin: persona ficta), which are other entities (such as corporations) that are treated in law as if they were persons.While human beings acquire legal personhood when they are born (or even before in some jurisdictions), juridical persons do so when they are incorporated in accordance with law.

Legal personhood is a prerequisite to legal capacity, the ability of any legal person to amend (enter into, transfer, etc.) rights and obligations.

In international law, consequently, legal personality is a prerequisite for an international organization to be able to sign international treaties in its own name.

Limited liability company

A limited liability company (LLC) is the US-specific form of a private limited company. It is a business structure that can combine the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a corporation. An LLC is not a corporation in and of itself; it is a legal form of a company that provides limited liability to its owners in many jurisdictions. LLCs are well known for the flexibility that they provide to business owners; depending on the situation, an LLC may elect to use corporate tax rules instead of being treated as a partnership, and, under certain circumstances, LLCs may be organized as not-for-profit. In certain U.S. states (for example, Texas), businesses that provide professional services requiring a state professional license, such as legal or medical services, may not be allowed to form an LLC but may be required to form a similar entity called a professional limited liability company (PLLC).A limited liability company (LLC) is a hybrid legal entity having certain characteristics of both a corporation and a partnership or sole proprietorship (depending on how many owners there are). An LLC is a type of unincorporated association distinct from a corporation. The primary characteristic an LLC shares with a corporation is limited liability, and the primary characteristic it shares with a partnership is the availability of pass-through income taxation. It is often more flexible than a corporation, and it is well-suited for companies with a single owner.Although LLCs and corporations both possess some analogous features, the basic terminology commonly associated with each type of legal entity, at least within the United States, is sometimes different. When an LLC is formed, it is said to be "organized,” not "incorporated" or "chartered,” and its founding document is likewise known as its "articles of organization," instead of its "articles of incorporation" or its "corporate charter.” Internal operations of an LLC are further governed by its "operating agreement," rather than its "bylaws." The owner of beneficial rights in an LLC is known as a "member," rather than a "shareholder.” Additionally, ownership in an LLC is represented by a "membership interest" or an "LLC interest" (sometimes measured in "membership units" or just "units" and at other times simply stated only as percentages), rather than represented by "shares of stock" or just "shares" (with ownership measured by the number of shares held by each shareholder). Similarly, when issued in physical rather than electronic form, a document evidencing ownership rights in an LLC is called a "membership certificate" rather than a "stock certificate".In the absence of express statutory guidance, most American courts have held that LLC members are subject to the same common law alter ego piercing theories as corporate shareholders. However, it is more difficult to pierce the LLC veil because LLCs do not have many formalities to maintain. As long as the LLC and the members do not commingle funds, it is difficult to pierce the LLC veil. Membership interests in LLCs and partnership interests are also afforded a significant level of protection through the charging order mechanism. The charging order limits the creditor of a debtor-partner or a debtor-member to the debtor's share of distributions, without conferring on the creditor any voting or management rights.Limited liability company members may, in certain circumstances, also incur a personal liability in cases where distributions to members render the LLC insolvent.

List of XML and HTML character entity references

In SGML, HTML and XML documents, the logical constructs known as character data and attribute values consist of sequences of characters, in which each character can manifest directly (representing itself), or can be represented by a series of characters called a character reference, of which there are two types: a numeric character reference and a character entity reference. This article lists the character entity references that are valid in HTML and XML documents.

A character entity reference refers to the content of a named entity. An entity declaration is created by using the syntax in a Document Type Definition (DTD).

List of legal entity types by country

A business entity is an entity that is formed and administered as per corporate law in order to engage in business activities, charitable work, or other activities allowable. Most often, business entities are formed to sell a product or a service. There are many types of business entities defined in the legal systems of various countries. These include corporations, cooperatives, partnerships, sole traders, limited liability companies and other specifically permitted and labelled types of entities. The specific rules vary by country and by state or province. Some of these types are listed below, by country. For guidance, approximate equivalents in the company law of English-speaking countries are given in most cases, for example:

≈ Ltd. (UK, Ireland and the Commonwealth)

≈ public limited company (UK, Ireland and the Commonwealth)

≈ limited partnership

≈ unlimited partnership

≈ chartered company

≈ statutory company

≈ holding company

≈ subsidiary company

≈ one man company (sole proprietorship)

≈ charitable incorporated organisation (UK)

≈ non-governmental organizationHowever, the regulations governing particular types of entities, even those described as roughly equivalent, differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. When creating or restructuring a business, the legal responsibilities will depend on the type of business entity chosen.

Non-governmental organization

Non-governmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, or nongovernment organizations, commonly referred to as NGOs, are usually non-profit and sometimes international organizations independent of governments and international governmental organizations (though often funded by governments) that are active in humanitarian, educational, health care, public policy, social, human rights, environmental, and other areas to affect changes according to their objectives. They are thus a subgroup of all organizations founded by citizens, which include clubs and other associations that provide services, benefits, and premises only to members. Sometimes the term is used as a synonym of "civil society organization" to refer to any association founded by citizens, but this is not how the term is normally used in the media or everyday language, as recorded by major dictionaries. The explanation of the term by NGO.org (the non-governmental organizations associated with the United Nations) is ambivalent. It first says an NGO is any non-profit, voluntary citizens' group which is organized on a local, national or international level, but then goes on to restrict the meaning in the sense used by most English speakers and the media: Task-oriented and driven by people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions, bring citizen concerns to Governments, advocate and monitor policies and encourage political participation through provision of information.NGOs are usually funded by donations, but some avoid formal funding altogether and are run primarily by volunteers. NGOs are highly diverse groups of organizations engaged in a wide range of activities, and take different forms in different parts of the world. Some may have charitable status, while others may be registered for tax exemption based on recognition of social purposes. Others may be fronts for political, religious, or other interests. Since the end of World War II, NGOs have had an increasing role in international development, particularly in the fields of humanitarian assistance and poverty alleviation.The number of NGOs worldwide is estimated to be 10 million. Russia had about 277,000 NGOs in 2008. India is estimated to have had around 2 million NGOs in 2009, just over one NGO per 600 Indians, and many times the number of primary schools and primary health centres in India. China is estimated to have approximately 440,000 officially registered NGOs. About 1.5 million domestic and foreign NGOs operated in the United States in 2017.The term 'NGO' is not always used consistently. In some countries the term NGO is applied to an organization that in another country would be called an NPO (non-profit organization), and vice versa. Political parties and trade unions are considered NGOs only in some countries. There are many different classifications of NGO in use. The most common focus is on "orientation" and "level of operation". An NGO's orientation refers to the type of activities it takes on. These activities might include human rights, environmental, improving health, or development work. An NGO's level of operation indicates the scale at which an organization works, such as local, regional, national, or international.The term "non-governmental organization" was first coined in 1945, when the United Nations (UN) was created. The UN, itself an intergovernmental organization, made it possible for certain approved specialized international non-state agencies — i.e., non-governmental organizations — to be awarded observer status at its assemblies and some of its meetings. Later the term became used more widely. Today, according to the UN, any kind of private organization that is independent from government control can be termed an "NGO", provided it is not-for-profit, non-prevention, but not simply an opposition political party.

One characteristic these diverse organizations share is that their non-profit status means they are not hindered by short-term financial objectives. Accordingly, they are able to devote themselves to issues which occur across longer time horizons, such as climate change, malaria prevention, or a global ban on landmines. Public surveys reveal that NGOs often enjoy a high degree of public trust, which can make them a useful - but not always sufficient - proxy for the concerns of society and stakeholders.

Nonprofit organization

A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is dedicated to furthering a particular social cause or advocating for a shared point of view. In economic terms, it is an organization that uses its surplus of the revenues to further achieve its ultimate objective, rather than distributing its income to the organization's shareholders, leaders, or members. Nonprofits are tax exempt or charitable, meaning they do not pay income tax on the money that they receive for their organization. They can operate in religious, scientific, research, or educational settings.

The key aspects of nonprofits are accountability, trustworthiness, honesty, and openness to every person who has invested time, money, and faith into the organization. Nonprofit organizations are accountable to the donors, funders, volunteers, program recipients, and the public community. Public confidence is a factor in the amount of money that a nonprofit organization is able to raise. The more nonprofits focus on their mission, the more public confidence they will have, and as a result, more money for the organization. The activities a nonprofit is partaking in can help build the public’s confidence in nonprofits, as well as how ethical the standards and practices are.

Parent company

A parent company is a company that owns enough voting stock in another firm to control management and operation by influencing or electing its board of directors. The company is deemed a subsidiary of the parent company.


A polity is any kind of political entity. It is a group of people who are collectively united by a self-reflected cohesive force such as identity, who have a capacity to mobilize resources, and are organized by some form of institutionalized hierarchy.

Special-purpose entity

A special-purpose entity (SPE; or, in Europe and India, special-purpose vehicle/SPV, or, in some cases in each EU jurisdiction – FVC, financial vehicle corporation) is a legal entity (usually a limited company of some type or, sometimes, a limited partnership) created to fulfill narrow, specific or temporary objectives. SPEs are typically used by companies to isolate the firm from financial risk. A formal definition is "The Special Purpose Entity is a fenced organization having limited predefined purposes and a legal personality".Normally a company will transfer assets to the SPE for management or use the SPE to finance a large project thereby achieving a narrow set of goals without putting the entire firm at risk. SPEs are also commonly used in complex financings to separate different layers of equity infusion. Commonly created and registered in tax havens, SPEs allow tax avoidance strategies unavailable in the home district. Round-tripping is one such strategy. In addition, they are commonly used to own a single asset and associated permits and contract rights (such as an apartment building or a power plant), to allow for easier transfer of that asset. They are an integral part of public private partnerships common throughout Europe which rely on a project finance type structure.A special-purpose entity may be owned by one or more other entities and certain jurisdictions may require ownership by certain parties in specific percentages. Often it is important that the SPE is not owned by the entity on whose behalf the SPE is being set up (the sponsor). For example, in the context of a loan securitization, if the SPE securitisation vehicle were owned or controlled by the bank whose loans were to be secured, the SPE would be consolidated with the rest of the bank's group for regulatory, accounting, and bankruptcy purposes, which would defeat the point of the securitisation. Therefore, many SPEs are set up as 'orphan' companies with their shares settled on charitable trust and with professional directors provided by an administration company to ensure that there is no connection with the sponsor.


A spirit is a supernatural being, often, but not exclusively, a non-physical entity; such as a ghost, fairy, or angel. The concepts of a person's spirit and soul, often also overlap, as both are either contrasted with or given ontological priority over the body and both are believed to survive bodily death in some religions, and "spirit" can also have the sense of "ghost", i.e. a manifestation of the spirit of a deceased person. In English Bibles, "the Spirit" (with a capital "S"), specifically denotes the Holy Spirit.

Spirit is often used metaphysically to refer to the consciousness or personality.

Historically, it was also used to refer to a "subtle" as opposed to "gross" material substance, as in the famous last paragraph of Sir Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica.

State-owned enterprise

A state-owned enterprise (SOE) is a business enterprise where the government or state has significant control through full, majority, or significant minority ownership. Defining characteristics of SOEs are their distinct legal form and operation in commercial affairs and activities. While they may also have public policy objectives (e.g., a state railway company may aim to make transportation more accessible), SOEs should be differentiated from government agencies or state entities established to pursue purely nonfinancial objectives.


A subsidiary, subsidiary company or daughter company is a company that is owned or controlled by another company, which is called the parent company, parent, or holding company. The subsidiary can be a company, corporation, or limited liability company. In some cases it is a government or state-owned enterprise. In some cases, particularly in the music and book publishing industries, subsidiaries are referred to as imprints.

In the United States railroad industry, an operating subsidiary is a company that is a subsidiary but operates with its own identity, locomotives and rolling stock. In contrast, a non-operating subsidiary would exist on paper only (i.e., stocks, bonds, articles of incorporation) and would use the identity of the parent company.

Subsidiaries are a common feature of business life, and most multinational corporations organize their operations in this way. Examples include holding companies such as Berkshire Hathaway, Jefferies Financial Group, WarnerMedia, or Citigroup; as well as more focused companies such as IBM or Xerox. These, and others, organize their businesses into national and functional subsidiaries, often with multiple levels of subsidiaries.


A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the jurisdiction of a state. In most countries, a territory is an organized land controlled division of an area that is controlled by a country but is not formally developed into, or incorporated into, a political unit of the country that is of equal status to other political units that may often be referred to by words such as "provinces" or "states". In international politics, a territory is usually a non-sovereign geographic area which has come under the authority of another government; which has not been granted the powers of self-government normally devolved to secondary territorial divisions; or both.

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