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 But, admittedly, the courts haven’t answered that question. Gilad Edelman, Wired, "Can the Government Buy Its Way Around the Fourth Amendment?," 11 Feb. 2020 This was not what had been briefed to the department and the department thinks the recommendation was extreme, excessive and grossly disproportionate to Stone’s offenses and the department will clarify its position later today at the court. Ali Dukakis And, ABC News, "DOJ announces reversal in Roger Stone sentencing recommendation after Trump tweet," 11 Feb. 2020 But the agreement is a step toward resolving the conflicts over logging rules that have played out at the Board of Forestry, the Legislature and in courts for decades and soon on the November ballot. oregonlive, "Oregon environmental groups, timber companies strike landmark compromise, signaling end to November ballot fight," 10 Feb. 2020 Heading into Monday’s game against the Nuggets, the pair had shared the court for only 66 minutes this season. Jeff Mcdonald,, "Three Spurs among 44 finalists for Olympic team," 10 Feb. 2020 Even if Congress were to pass such a tax, it would immediately be challenged in the courts. Steven Pressman, The Conversation, "Democratic plans for raising taxes on the rich: A guide for the middle class," 7 Feb. 2020 Sissoko is one of Mali’s most famous players of the kora, a traditional string instrument that was played in royal courts and is now celebrated around the world. Joe Penney, Quartz Africa, "How US Customs officers damaged a revered West African artist’s custom-built kora," 6 Feb. 2020 The attorney general has been a proponent of the death penalty and has sought to resume federal executions, but plans to execute current death row inmates have been held up in the courts. Erin Coulehan, New York Times, "Federal Hate Crime Charges Filed in El Paso Shooting That Targeted Latinos," 6 Feb. 2020 Lewd women, bawds and adventuresses were not welcome in courts, nor were prostitutes or immoral characters. Clement Knox, Time, "When U.S. Laws Punished Men for 'Seduction,' Women Were the Ones Who Got Judged," 4 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb He is expected to try and court Fickell to become the Spartans’ 25th head coach and replace Mark Dantonio, who retired abruptly Tuesday after 13 seasons. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State football lands in Cincinnati to interview Luke Fickell," 9 Feb. 2020 After heavily courting Herta this offseason, Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt hopes his crew of decision-makers snagged two drivers with Herta-type talent and the longevity of some of the sport’s best present-day drivers. Nathan Brown, Indianapolis Star, "Oliver Askew, Patricio O'Ward ready for battle vs. IndyCar vets: 'It's a total long play'," 7 Feb. 2020 Here are letters that the four women sent one another while reading Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet: letters that themselves court a new mode of textual engagement. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "A New Book on Elena Ferrante Rethinks What Criticism Can Be," 6 Feb. 2020 Mathrani focused on high-end properties and courted internet-native brands like Warby Parker and Tesla Inc. to his malls. Fortune, "WeWork hires corporate turnaround artist with ‘plenty of luck’ as new CEO," 3 Feb. 2020 Abrams, who was heavily courted to run for the Senate but declined, is one of the party’s most popular political figures., "Bloomberg’s $11 million Super Bowl ad: Gun violence and a grieving mother," 30 Jan. 2020 On a recent trip out of Ventura Harbor, a Times reporter spotted a pair of gray whales courting just north of Santa Cruz Island. Anchorage Daily News, "As gray whale migration reaches its peak, scientists fear another unexplained die-off," 25 Jan. 2020 Perhaps Zelensky’s biggest challenge lies with his erstwhile patron, Ihor Kolomoisky, one of the oligarchs who Giuliani and his associates courted and the man Rozhkova believes is responsible for trying to intimidate her and her colleagues. Anton Troianovski,, "Ukraine’s president pledged to tackle corruption. The resistance is fierce.," 19 Jan. 2020 When courting an iBuyer, sellers don’t have to take the traditional steps of listing, staging or showing their home. Michael Kolomatsky, New York Times, "Would You Sell Your Home to an Algorithm?," 16 Jan. 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

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Court.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 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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More from Merriam-Webster on court

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for court

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

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