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

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

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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

Margaret Hunter, who was not in court Monday, pleaded guilty last month to one corruption count and agreed to testify against her husband. Fox News, "Duncan Hunter's corruption trial can detail alleged extramarital affairs, judge rules," 2 July 2019 The state has partially defunded Planned Parenthood, a decision that was recently upheld in a court. Laura Hancock,, "Ohio House bill offers tax credit for donations to controversial ‘crisis pregnancy centers’," 1 July 2019 So a key facet of the APP has been to teach prisoners how to launch appeals and to argue for them in court. The Economist, "Education gives Kenyan prisoners hope of redemption and release," 1 July 2019 Smith was booked into the county jail at 10:15 a.m. Friday on a charge of failure to appear in court on 2018 charges of unlawful distribution of marijuana and cocaine trafficking. Carol Robinson |,, "Authorities identify inmate who died from apparent seizure in Jefferson County Jail," 1 July 2019 But until a trial this month in the 1987 murder of a young Canadian couple, it had never been tested in court. Heather Murphy, New York Times, "Genealogy Sites Have Helped Identify Suspects. Now They’ve Helped Convict One.," 1 July 2019 Additional details could be available later Monday in court. Peter Hermann, Washington Post, "Police arrest man in fatal shooting near U Street corridor," 1 July 2019 The non-partisan research and advocacy organization is at work to make that number go down by hosting human trafficking bus tours and presenting their findings in court. Samantha Lopez, Houston Chronicle, "How illicit massage businesses are shut down in Houston," 1 July 2019 Nelson has not yet filed a reply in court to the allegations and could not be reached for comment. San Diego Union-Tribune, "When landlords prey on fear of eviction to coerce sex from tenants," 30 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

California voters would have been courted and crucial state issues addressed — problems such as water shortages, affordable housing, homelessness, highway repairs and damaging agriculture tariffs. George Skelton,, "Kamala Harris probably won the California primary in the first debate," 1 July 2019 California voters would have been courted and crucial state issues addressed — problems such as water shortages, affordable housing, homelessness, highway repairs and damaging agriculture tariffs. George Skelton, The Mercury News, "Skelton: Did Harris win California’s primary with her debate showing?," 1 July 2019 The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has recently begun courting the City. The Economist, "London’s reign as the world’s capital of capital is at risk," 29 June 2019 Christie at the time was seeking re-election and was courting Democratic officials as a way to burnish his ability to reach across the aisle. Mike Catalin,, "Supreme Court agrees to hear ‘Bridgegate’ case," 28 June 2019 The former Cavaliers star, now with the Lakers, is — as expected — courting Kawhi Leonard. Matt Goul,, "LeBron James courting Kawhi Leonard; What are Los Angeles Lakers’ options? NBA free agents 2019 rumors, news," 28 June 2019 Novakovic’s quiet profile is not out of the ordinary in the Washington area’s insular defense contracting industry, where marketers court government weapons buyers rather than mass consumers. Washington Post, "General Dynamics CEO Phebe Novakovic recounts her national security journey, takes a jab at Silicon Valley," 28 June 2019 Keating: Opposing measure would lead to lawsuit Councilman Randy Keating said opposing the tax break or courting other developers to finish the project would expose the city to a lawsuit. Paulina Pineda, azcentral, "Tempe approves tax break on downtown development despite residents' concerns," 28 June 2019 While the candidates have been courting voters in key states for several months already, the vast majority of the nation has yet to pay close attention to the diverse field. Anchorage Daily News, "Democrats rail against economy-for-the-rich in first debate," 27 June 2019

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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Statistics for court

Last Updated

4 Jul 2019

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)

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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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

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