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

The women disagreed, urging the court to continue to allow the women to protect their true identities. Author: Rachel D'oro, Anchorage Daily News, "Former UAA professor accused of sexual misconduct objects to pseudonyms in lawsuit," 13 Aug. 2019 No one is surprised that this one will be decided by the courts. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: California’s rent costs, privacy and vaccine rules take the spotlight in Sacramento," 12 Aug. 2019 The case was a hopeless mess, owing to both the local court’s hostility toward the defendants and the abject failure of the county sheriff to deliver justice. Patrick Berry, The New Yorker, "The Mail," 12 Aug. 2019 The Texas Democratic Party have sued over the meeting alleging a slew of election law violations and asking the court to produce the recording. James Barragán, Dallas News, "Lawmakers to investigate claim of Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen's quid pro quo offer to activist group," 12 Aug. 2019 Players get a couple weeks off until the start of the fall semester in late August, then have limited time on the court with the coaches. San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego State center Nathan Mensah scheduled for thumb surgery," 12 Aug. 2019 The ruling is expected to be announced Wednesday, the Swedish court said. Eric Todisco,, "A$AP Rocky Performs for The First Time Since Release from Swedish Jail: 'I'm So Happy to Be Here'," 12 Aug. 2019 The young player, who had been nervous to face the legendary champion on the court, ended up giving Williams a pep talk. Kelly Mccleary, CNN, "Serena Williams leaves tournament final injured, heaps praise on champion who comforted her," 12 Aug. 2019 The protests began two months ago in opposition to legislation that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, where the courts are controlled by the governing Communist Party. New York Times, "Hong Kong Convulsed by Protest as Police Fire Tear Gas Into Subway," 11 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Before he was accused of rape, Banks was being courted by several colleges to join their football programs, and was recruited by Coach Pete Carroll at USC. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Actors, attorneys and exonorees walk the red carpert at screening of ‘Brian Banks’ movie in Balboa Park," 4 Aug. 2019 She’s also been conspicuously courted by some of the party’s many presidential candidates, including Sens. Laurie Kellman, Twin Cities, "A look at the ‘squad’ (including Ilhan Omar) that Trump targeted in racist tweets," 15 July 2019 Gone were smeared lipstick and tattered tights, fashion choices that definitely wouldn’t appeal to the mainstream moviegoing public Love was now courting. Lisawhill, Longreads, "Live Through This: Courtney Love at 55," 9 July 2019 The big names available are being courted by teams eyeing immediate success. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Red Wings in NHL free agency: Top options for Steve Yzerman," 28 June 2019 Jackson has a long history of courting and befriending women just to con them into his schemes, according to the Daily Beast. Kynala Phillips, Essence, "Longtime Scammer Broke Hearts And Drained Bank Accounts," 17 June 2019 The company has been aggressively courting on-screen talent and producers/writers/showrunners to greenlight several series. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Apple’s September 12, 2018 event: What we expect to be “gathering round” for," 9 Sep. 2018 Dallet, like Burns, spoke at the state Democratic Party's convention last year and has criticized President Donald Trump but has also courted moderate voters. Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin Supreme Court primary: Michael Screnock, Rebecca Dallet advance to April 3 general election," 20 Feb. 2018 Allies have been left in the middle, even as they are alienated by a Trump administration that insults them and courts their rivals. Adam Taylor, Washington Post, "U.S. allies risk becoming collateral damage in Iran fight," 12 July 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

15 Aug 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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a wrong name or inappropriate designation

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