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

Fun but not dumb, and arty without a trace of affectation, the Cars are one of those rare rock groups whose work entertains without becoming condescending. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Ric Ocasek of The Cars spoke candidly in our 1984 interview," 16 Sep. 2019 Steve also performed with the Hadassah Players entertaining at local assisted living and nursing home facilities. sun-sentinel.com, "Deaths in South Florida: 9/15," 15 Sep. 2019 Although consistently entertaining, Brown did not romanticize life in the wilderness. cleveland.com, "Voyageur canoe expedition transports park visitors back to historic fur trade," 15 Sep. 2019 Clay-Chalkville hosts Gardendale, and Pinson Valley entertains Oxford. al, "Barry White adds to collection of hits for Pinson Valley," 14 Sep. 2019 Ceres loved entertaining for everyone who stopped by her home. courant.com, "Ceres Millicent Surgeon," 10 Sep. 2019 But the shoot's an enjoyable adventure, and Moore's experience releasing the film reminds us that when a packed cinema is primed to have a good time, even a turd can sometimes entertain. John Defore, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Dolemite Is My Name': Film Review | TIFF 2019," 8 Sep. 2019 This home offers two gorgeous pools with spas and two gazebos, perfect for outdoor living and entertaining. Emilia Benton, Houston Chronicle, "Home with guesthouse available in Hunter’s Creek Village," 7 Sep. 2019 So why is the Fifth Circuit, at the behest of several red states and with considerable support from the Trump administration itself, entertaining yet another lawsuit to strike Obamacare down? Robert Verbruggen, National Review, "The GOP’s Self-Made Health-Care Conundrum," 5 Sep. 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

13 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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