Entertain | Definition of Entertain by Merriam-Webster


en·​ter·​tain | \ ˌen-tər-ˈtān How to pronounce entertain (audio) \
entertained; entertaining; entertains

Definition of entertain

transitive verb

1 : to show hospitality to entertain guests
2 : to provide entertainment for
3a : to keep, hold, or maintain in the mind I entertain grave doubts about her sincerity.
b : to receive and take into consideration refused to entertain our plea
4 : to play against (an opposing team) on one's home field or court
5a archaic : maintain
b obsolete : receive

intransitive verb

: to provide entertainment especially for guests

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Other Words from entertain

entertainer noun

Synonyms for entertain


amuse, disport, divert, regale, solace

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Choose the Right Synonym for entertain

amuse, divert, entertain mean to pass or cause to pass the time pleasantly. amuse suggests that one's attention is engaged lightly. amuse yourselves while I make dinner divert implies distracting attention from worry or routine occupation especially by something funny. a light comedy to divert the tired businessman entertain suggests supplying amusement by specially contrived methods. a magician entertaining children at a party

Examples of entertain in a Sentence

They like to entertain their friends at their summer home. Much of his job as a salesman involves entertaining clients. Jugglers were on hand to entertain the crowd. Our father entertained us with stories. Our father's stories entertained us.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Once movement begins, a press of a button allows us to enter a slow-motion mode, where one can assign multiple targets or entertain some ballet-like spins (spins, of course, evade incoming bullets). Todd Martens, chicagotribune.com, "Review: 'My Friend Pedro’ is 2019’s best action game with a talking banana," 3 July 2019 Add Semple’s entertaining books to this summer’s reading list. Jeff Forward, Houston Chronicle, "Maria Semple to headline John Cooper Signatures Author Series," 3 July 2019 Roger Avary was attached to one version years ago, while HBO and Warner Bros. had entertained the notion their own adaptations over the years. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Netflix is reportedly adapting Neil Gaiman’s Sandman," 1 July 2019 Few people of reason would run every day for 40 years or even entertain the thought. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Doc: Father Lawrence Schottelkotte has run every day for 40 years. It takes faith to do it.," 29 June 2019 Viewers on Twitter were confused, fascinated, obsessed, and just straight-up entertained. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Marianne Williamson Has Both Confused and Fascinated the Internet," 28 June 2019 Recall Chris Christie’s entertaining dressing down of a robotic Marco Rubio in a February 2016 debate. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Will anyone be brave enough to try to take down Joe Biden?," 28 June 2019 Four-star Alabama defensive back commitment Malachi Moore isn’t entertaining any other college offers. Ben Thomas | Bthomas@al.com, al.com, "‘It’s all Alabama:’ Longtime Tide DB commit Malachi Moore not wavering on college choice," 27 June 2019 Avoid the tendency to try and read between the lines or entertain wishful thinking when someone is just being honest with you. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive.com, "Horoscope for June 26, 2019: Happy birthday Chris O’Donnell; Cancer, roll with the punches," 26 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'entertain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of entertain

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 5a

History and Etymology for entertain

Middle English entertinen, from Middle French entretenir, from entre- inter- + tenir to hold — more at tenable

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Statistics for entertain

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for entertain

The first known use of entertain was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for entertain



English Language Learners Definition of entertain

: to have people as guests in your home or in a public place (such as a restaurant)
: to perform for (an audience) : to provide amusement for (someone) by singing, acting, etc.
: to provide or be entertainment for (someone)


en·​ter·​tain | \ ˌen-tər-ˈtān How to pronounce entertain (audio) \
entertained; entertaining

Kids Definition of entertain

1 : to host a social event My parents entertain often.
2 : to have as a guest entertain friends
3 : to perform for or provide amusement for Comedians entertained the crowd.
4 : to have in mind She entertained thoughts of quitting.

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Comments on entertain

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