noun, often attributive
\ ˈkȯrt How to pronounce court (audio) \

Definition of court

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the residence or establishment of a sovereign or similar dignitary riding to the king's court
b : a sovereign's formal assembly of councillors and officers The king held a general court.
c : the sovereign and officers and advisers who are the governing power The court has decided against the alliance.
d : the family and retinue of a sovereign The court enjoyed the tournament.
e : a reception held by a sovereign
2a(1) : a manor house or large building surrounded by usually enclosed grounds Hampton Court
(2) : motel
b : an open space enclosed wholly or partly by buildings or circumscribed by a single building the court at the center of the palace
c : a quadrangular space walled or marked off for playing one of various games with a ball (such as tennis, handball, or basketball) also : a division of such a court
d : a wide alley with only one opening onto a street
3a : an official assembly for the transaction of judicial business
b : a session of such a court The court is now adjourned.
c : a place (such as a chamber) for the administration of justice sat quietly in the back of the court
d : a judge or judges in session also : a faculty or agency of judgment or evaluation … rest our case in the court of world opinion … — Leonard H. Marks
4a : an assembly or board with legislative or administrative powers
5 : conduct or attention intended to win favor or dispel hostility : homage pay court to the king


courted; courting; courts

Definition of court (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to seek to gain or achieve court power
b(1) : allure, tempt mountain streams courting the fishermen
(2) : to act so as to invite or provoke courts disaster
2a : to seek the affections of especially : to seek to win a pledge of marriage from
b of an animal : to perform actions in order to attract for mating a male bird courting a female
3a : to seek to attract (as by solicitous attention or offers of advantages) college teams courting high school basketball stars Both candidates were courting the independent voters.
b : to seek an alliance with

intransitive verb

1 : to engage in social activities leading to engagement and marriage
2 of an animal : to engage in activity leading to mating a pair of robins courting in the trees

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Synonyms for court

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of court in a Sentence

Noun Court is now in session. Court is adjourned for the day. There was a large group of protesters outside the court. a lawyer who has appeared in courts around the country The case is before the state's highest court. She's a judge on an appellate court. The prosecution has new evidence to submit to the court. Please explain to the court what happened that night. The court ruled the law unconstitutional. The court reversed the lower court's decision. Verb The couple courted for two years before marrying. He was courting his college sweetheart. a pair of robins courting The male will sometimes court the female for hours. college teams courting high school basketball stars The speech was clearly intended to court middle-class voters.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Four months later, on Summitt’s court in Knoxville, which hosted the Final Four, Stanford won its first national championship. Ann Killion,, "When Stanford’s VanDerveer passes Summitt, history will be made quietly," 23 Nov. 2020 The label last held court atop the list with Harry Styles’ Fine Line, which was released in December 2019. Keith Caulfield, Billboard, "AC/DC’s ‘Power Up’ Charges In at No. 1 on Billboard 200 Albums Chart," 22 Nov. 2020 Amenities include a bistro, indoor pool, theater, putting green, outdoor pavilion, bocce court, salon, library, and even a dog park. Beth Mlady, cleveland, "Developer eyes Berea for new active senior community," 20 Nov. 2020 Joe Biden outspent President Trump to court Spanish-speaking voters in the general election, focusing on two top battleground states where large Latino populations helped decide the outcome: Florida and Arizona. Luis Melgar, WSJ, "Biden, Trump Focused on Florida and Arizona in Bids for Latino Votes," 20 Nov. 2020 The Supreme Court returned the case to the lower court, which again upheld the conviction. Emily Langer, Washington Post, "Drew S. Days III, first African American to lead civil rights division at Justice Department, dies at 79," 20 Nov. 2020 Traditionally, the Rex ball features the presentation of Rex and his consort, a court of maids and dukes, recognition of local dignitaries and special guests, as well as presentations of a select group of debutantes from the year’s coterie. Victor Andrews,, "Rex cancels 2021 Mardi Gras ball in wake of parade ban, and won't crown a king and queen," 20 Nov. 2020 Host Jason Reynolds, himself a former National Book Awards Finalist for Young People's Literature, held court in Washington, D.C., while outgoing National Book Foundation Director Lisa Lucas broadcast her portion from the Los Angeles Public Library. Seija Rankin,, "Here are the winners of the 2020 National Book Awards," 19 Nov. 2020 The temporary restraining order was denied by Blake and by a federal appeals court, who found that the lawsuit would have little chance of success. Pamela Wood,, "Federal judge in Maryland dismisses ‘reopen’ lawsuit; upholds Gov. Hogan’s coronavirus restrictions," 18 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Under the cover of darkness, his bosses at Auburn then made a secret plane mission to an airport near Louisville to court a new coach to replace him – Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino. Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY, "Former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville wins election to US Senate," 4 Nov. 2020 In the wake of Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012, Republican strategists warned that the party must do more to court the group. Jennifer Medina, New York Times, "Latino, Evangelical and Politically Homeless," 12 Oct. 2020 President Trump is in Pennsylvania on Saturday for the second time in a week, in an effort to court some of the same rural and White working-class voters who supported him four years ago. Julia Musto, Fox News, "Trump heads to Pennsylvania for the second time in a week: What's at stake," 26 Sep. 2020 In Connecticut, a Fairfield County group, Suburban Women Against Trump (S.W.A.T.), formed this past summer to push back against Trump’s attempts to court female suburban votes. Eliza Fawcett,, "Unrest in Avon? Trump’s message of law and order, loaded with racist undertones, takes aim at safety and security in Connecticut suburbs," 14 Oct. 2020 Not until either man met Hunter Biden did their attempts to court high-profile names seem to lead to any productive meetings. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "Hunter Biden's former business partner tried striking deals with politicians for years," 27 Oct. 2020 Read more about the candidates' efforts to court Puerto Rican voters here. NBC news, "Biden, Trump reach out to Puerto Rican voters," 20 Oct. 2020 Trump made a halfhearted effort to court the LGBTQ community in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. NBC News, "Trump Pride: Gay Republicans on why they're backing the president," 15 Oct. 2020 In California, the state’s Republican Party has taken Gov. Gavin Newsom and other officials to court over the practice. Sarah Parvini, Los Angeles Times, "California Republicans defend ballot boxes as subpoenas are issued," 16 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'court.' 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 court


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1567, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for court


Middle English, from Anglo-French curt, court, from Latin cohort-, cohors enclosure, group, retinue, cohort, from co- + -hort-, -hors (akin to hortus garden) — more at yard

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Time Traveler for court

Time Traveler

The first known use of court was in the 12th century

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Statistics for court

Last Updated

26 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Court.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for court


How to pronounce court (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of court

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a formal legal meeting in which evidence about crimes, disagreements, etc., is presented to a judge and often a jury so that decisions can be made according to the law
: a place where legal cases are heard
: an official group of people (such as a judge and jury) who listen to evidence and make decisions about legal cases



English Language Learners Definition of court (Entry 2 of 2)

somewhat old-fashioned : to act in a way that shows that you want or intend to get married
of an animal : to perform the actions that lead to sexual activity
: to give a lot of attention and praise to (someone) in order to get approval, support, etc.


\ ˈkȯrt How to pronounce court (audio) \

Kids Definition of court

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a space arranged for playing a certain game tennis court basketball court
2 : an official meeting led by a judge for settling legal questions or the place where it is held
3 : a judge or the judges presiding in a courtroom The court decides issues of law.
4 : the home of a ruler (as a king)
5 : a ruler's assembly of advisers and officers as a governing power
6 : the family and people who follow a ruler
7 : an open space completely or partly surrounded by buildings
8 : a short street
9 : respect meant to win favor Pay court to the king.


courted; courting

Kids Definition of court (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to seek the love or companionship of
2 : to try to gain or get the support of : seek Both candidates courted new voters.
3 : to seem to be asking for : tempt You're courting trouble by not fixing your car.


\ ˈkōrt How to pronounce court (audio) \

Legal Definition of court

1a : an official assembly for the administration of justice : a unit of the judicial branch of government the judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establishU.S. Constitution art. III
b : a session of such a court
c usually capitalized : the Supreme Court of the United States
2 : a place (as a building, hall, or room) for the administration of justice order in the court
3 : a judge or judges acting in official capacity an issue to be decided by the court the court may neither preside at nor attend the meeting of creditors— J. H. Williamson
4 usually capitalized : a legislative body the General Court of Massachusetts
5 : a body (as the International Court of Justice) exercising judicial powers over its members or the members of a body represented by it an ecclesiastical court
out of court
: without a court hearing : by private arrangement settled out of court

History and Etymology for court

Old French, enclosed space, royal entourage, court of justice, from Latin cohort-, cohors farmyard, armed force, retinue

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