The Meaning of Risk

If you think about the word ‘risk’ – what comes to mind?

Throughout history, ‘risk’ has had slightly different connotations. Tracing the etymology, Michele Wucker provides a few clues into its various meanings, which could be summarized as:

  • the spoils of war
  • a danger
  • a dare to undertake with the hope for economic success
  • an adventure or ‘the sum adventured’

When I think about commercial settings, and the context in which risks are usually discussed, I think people would be better of using the word ‘danger’, because I think that’s what they actually mean. What are the dangers? – And how can we avoid them? Rarely are risks discussed with the consideration that there might be a positive and asymmetric gain – and furthermore, what would be required to realise these gains.

What does risk mean to you?