amused; amusing

transitive verb

: to entertain or occupy in a light, playful, or pleasant manner
She tried to amuse the child with a story.
: to appeal to the sense of humor of
His jokes don't amuse me.
archaic : to divert the attention of so as to deceive
obsolete : to occupy the attention of : absorb
obsolete : distract, bewilder

intransitive verb

obsolete : muse
amuser noun

Did you know?

Are amused and bemused synonyms?

Many people link bemused with amused, believing that the former word carries the meaning “amused, with a touch of something else.” While this was not its original sense, bemused has been used in such a fashion for long enough, and by enough people, that the meaning “having feelings of wry amusement especially from something that is surprising or perplexing" has become established. You may use bemuse in this fashion if you wish, but bear in mind that some people find it objectionable, insisting that bemused and amused are entirely distinct and that bemused properly means “marked by confusion or bewilderment.” It is worth noting that before bemused indicated confusion it had the meaning (especially among poets) “devoted to the Muses.”

Choose the Right Synonym for amuse

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 amuse in a Sentence

It amuses me to think of how he looked when I last saw him. a funny story that never fails to amuse He amused himself with a game of solitaire.
Recent Examples on the Web Shrimp Jesus: Outlandish images that appear to be generated by artificial intelligence are racking up reactions on Facebook, leaving users amused, befuddled and on guard for scams. Angela Yang, NBC News, 19 Mar. 2024 But McCain’s daughter, Meghan, a fierce defender of his legacy, was not amused. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 25 Feb. 2024 Lady Rose Hanbury was not amused by Stephen Colbert's jokes about those Prince William affair rumors from 2019. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, 23 Mar. 2024 Iron actually got my sarcasm but wasn’t amused by my joke. Gieson Cacho, The Mercury News, 22 Mar. 2024 The entire industry is an illusion: actors, dialogue, costumes, sets, editing, even the magic of performers appearing on small screens with a snap, like genies summoned to amuse. Amy Nicholson, Los Angeles Times, 21 Mar. 2024 Berger’s dream flashes present scenarios where hope and despair don’t merely amuse. Armond White, National Review, 6 Mar. 2024 Rivers, who lost his first two games after the midseason firing of first-year coach Adrian Griffin, was slightly less than amused about leading the Eastern Conference All-Stars on Feb. 18. Schuyler Dixon, USA TODAY, 4 Feb. 2024 Zany fairy-tale-tastic antics ensue — with multilevel jokes that manage to amuse both young and old. Ew Staff,, 14 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'amuse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French amuser, from Old French, from a- (from Latin ad-) + muser to muse

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of amuse was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near amuse

Cite this Entry

“Amuse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


amused; amusing
: to occupy with something pleasant
amuse a child with a toy
: to please the sense of humor of
the story amused everyone
amusedly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on amuse

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