noun, often attributive
\ ˈkȯrt \

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

b : parliament, legislature

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

close, courtyard, enclosure (also inclosure), patio, quad, quadrangle, yard

Synonyms: Verb


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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

An article on Friday about a federal appeals court’s decision in a case regarding California’s royalty laws described incorrectly a provision involving a 90-day grace period. New York Times, "Corrections: July 14, 2018," 13 July 2018 Nickelberry is trying to be aggressive off the court, too, with an everyday recruiting pursuit of his travel teammates Kobe Brown and Jaylin Williams. Jeff Greer, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville pledge Josh Nickelberry recruiting teammates for Cards," 13 July 2018 LaVar Ball, who started the league this year for pro hopefuls who didn't want to play in college, frequently smiled while watching the game from his court side seat. Josh Peter, USA TODAY, "LiAngelo Ball scored 53 points, LaMelo Ball has triple double for LA Ballers in JBA game," 13 July 2018 If either side disagrees with the appeals court’s decision, the case could then move to the Supreme Court. New York Times, "AT&T-Time Warner Deal Approval Gets Justice Department Challenge," 12 July 2018 More likely, Conley and Puscian will resolve their dispute out of court in a settlement. Michael Mccann,, "Could Gareon Conley Legally Prove That Rape Allegation Caused Draft Slide, Financial Harm?," 12 July 2018 The sanctions could include fines or a contempt of court finding against government officials. Elaine Ayala, San Antonio Express-News, "Unmarked vans, security fences: family reunification proceeds behind curtain of secrecy," 12 July 2018 Some of the court’s reversals are more momentous than others, of course. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "How the Supreme Court Kills Roe v. Wade," 11 July 2018 Roberts, the conservative chief justice appointed by George W. Bush, sided with the court’s liberals in ruling that the government could mandate the purchase of health insurance under its power to tax. Alex Pappas, Fox News, "Supreme Court shortlister Kavanaugh's role in ObamaCare's survival fiercely debated by conservatives," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The World Cup kicked off nearly a month ago with a performance by Robbie Williams, during which the British singer courted controversy by showing the middle finger. Vladimir Kozlov, The Hollywood Reporter, "World Cup: Will Smith to Perform at Closing Ceremony," 12 July 2018 Arias' attorneys say Martinez courted journalists and spectators, signed autographs and posed for photos during the trial. Fox News, "Appeal by Jodi Arias cites 'circus-like atmosphere' at trial," 6 July 2018 Elon Musk has an almost Trumpian ability to court controversy. Rachel Siegel,, "Elon Musk's troubled love of a magical unicorn," 30 June 2018 Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge, who is courting foreign oil companies such as France’s Total and Spain’s Repsol, said the concerns are overblown. WSJ, "Eureka! Giant Oil Find Set to Bring Guyana Startling Riches—Maybe," 21 June 2018 And then there’s Jamie Anderson, the snowboarder who courted a fanbase of her own during the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Laura Bradley, HWD, "Dancing with the Stars," 5 Apr. 2018 Corbyn seems keenly aware that his support base remains solid, courting more controversy rather than playing it safe. Thomas Penny,, "Corbyn Remains Untouchable as Anti-Semitism Row Engulfs Labour," 4 Apr. 2018 The Hyde Park resident raised nearly $400,000, believed to be a record in the clerk courts race, which rarely had been competitive. Jason Williams,, "PX: Could Aftab Pureval upset Congressman Steve Chabot? See why it's possible," 19 Jan. 2018 In one instance, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke courted oil and gas drillers in private by assuring them that changes to federal land policy would make their companies more profitable. Zack Colman, Scientific American, "A Trump Oil Boom Could Transform This Rocky Mountain Landscape," 13 July 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.

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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


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

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Statistics for court

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for court

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

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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)

: 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 \

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 \

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

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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).


alleviating pain or harshness

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