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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for court

Synonyms: Noun


Synonyms: Verb

ask (for), flirt (with), invite, woo

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of court in a Sentence


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.


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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Because of conflicting instructions contained in the three documents, one of the questions before the court is whether niece Sabrina Owens may continue as executor of the Franklin estate. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "Are Aretha Franklin's handwritten wills admissible? No decision yet," 17 June 2019 In that agreement, the city promised not to make significant changes to retirees' insurance without first consulting with the court and the retirees. Dan Horn,, "Cincinnati retirees sue city to keep insurance coverage of Viagra, other medications," 17 June 2019 The case would have given the court's conservative majority the chance to expand upon its narrow 2018 ruling in favor of a Colorado baker. Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "Supreme Court evades another wedding cake dispute pitting gay rights against religious beliefs," 17 June 2019 When he was kicked out of treatment for showing up drunk or high, the courts either did not find out or did not care to reinstate his sentences. Matthew Van Meter, The New Republic, "The Judge and the Three-Strikes Convict," 17 June 2019 Did Denver actually benefit from not making the conference finals and (possibly) getting run off the court by the Golden State Warriors? Matt Schubert, The Denver Post, "Nuggets Ink podcast: Paul Millsap, Michael Porter Jr. and other pressing offseason questions," 16 June 2019 The international court issued an arrest warrant for Mr. al-Bashir a decade ago. Declan Walsh, New York Times, "Sudan’s Deposed Dictator Makes First Appearance Since Ouster," 16 June 2019 The edition Pelicans’ fans will see this fall will look quite different from the version that took the court last season. Andrew Lopez,, "After trade, Pelicans could become elite defensively but questions remain on offense," 16 June 2019 And while Western audiences generally get that dance can be equally entertaining and enlightening, this is often less true about dance forms whose cultural origins lie outside the French courts. Lauren Warnecke,, "'Internal Geometry' by Natya Dance Theatre is hardly radical but has women telling the story," 15 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Abrams is just the latest in a string of high-profile producers who have been courted for a major production deal with a streamer. Frank Pallotta, CNN, "J.J. Abrams close to striking production deal with WarnerMedia," 18 June 2019 The Patriots would like to have Solder, a 2011 first-round pick back, and he's also being courted by the Texans and other teams. Mary Kay Cabot,, "Joe Thomas says his decision is 'right around the corner' as Browns continue to pursue Nate Solder," 13 Mar. 2018 Given his abysmal grassroots support, Kevin Yoder should spend less time in Washington courting donors and spend more time in Kansas hearing from the everyday folks he was elected to represent. Lindsay Wise, kansascity, "Kevin Yoder’s campaign is being fueled by PAC money," 7 Feb. 2018 None of this has stopped European states from courting Mr. Haftar. Jared Malsin, WSJ, "Libyan Warlord Embraced by Foreign Leaders as a Key to Peace," 3 Dec. 2018 Collins courted some controversy from the town over the fuel spill that cost $2.5 million to remediate. Kathleen Mcwilliams, Courant Community, "Newington Superintendent Resigns," 26 June 2018 In an interview with Sky Sports pundit, and former Liverpool player Phil Thompson, Klopp detailed the events of United courting his services., "Jurgen Klopp Admits Why He Turned Down Manchester United Before Taking the Liverpool Job," 14 Jan. 2018 In an interview, Mr. Sarbanes acknowledged that Democrats hadn’t spent much time courting Republican support. Julie Bykowicz, WSJ, "Democrats Set to Push Election Overhaul, Without GOP Support," 3 Jan. 2019 The company hasn’t settled on a specific location, but it’s been courted heavily by France, Spain, and others. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "Tesla will live and die by the Gigafactory," 30 Nov. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about court

Statistics for court

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for court

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for court



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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on court

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with court

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for court

Spanish Central: Translation of court

Nglish: Translation of court for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of court for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about court

Comments on court

What made you want to look up court? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a device or gadget

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!