noun, often attributive
\ ˈkȯrt How to pronounce court (audio) \
plural courts

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 — see also court-packing, pack the court
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 — see also take to 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 And nobody running on the court or throwing things at players, either. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, 10 June 2021 The most remarkable thing about the Nets finishing the season with the best offense in the history of the league was that their best players barely played together: Harden, Durant and Irving were on the court for 6% of the team’s minutes. Ben Cohen, WSJ, 9 June 2021 Pritchard believes some current players could step up into that role, but didn't shy away from noting a possible desire to sign a veteran leader — regardless of the player's role on the court. Stefan Krajisnik, The Indianapolis Star, 9 June 2021 The Celtics were outscored by 4.1 points per 100 possessions with Edwards on the court., 9 June 2021 The players arrived Sunday, got coronavirus tests, and hung out in hotel rooms, before being picked up Monday for interviews, medical screening and on-court work. Rusty Simmons, San Francisco Chronicle, 8 June 2021 If the power of one’s dissents are the measure of a justice’s greatness, then John Marshall Harlan, who served on the court between 1877 and 1911, deserves a much bigger tribute. Seth Stern, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 June 2021 The 7-foot, 250-pound former North Carolina center was a big kid on the court at the Tampa Bay Pro Basketball Combine. Marcus Fuller, Star Tribune, 8 June 2021 At 24-15, the Falcons put down the ball in Olentangy's side and the celebration started with hugging coaches and dogpiling on the court. Alex Harrison, The Enquirer, 7 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Some Trump allies hope his remarks will serve as a blueprint for Republican candidates seeking to court his supporters on their own between now and next November, while others find the prospect of him focusing on anything but 2020 laughable. Michael Warren, CNN, 4 June 2021 There are many ways to court the world’s media, and the state of Israel has seemingly tried all of them. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, 17 May 2021 And as governor of the most populous state in the union, Newsom possesses ample power and opportunities to court California’s electorate before the recall makes its way to the ballot. Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times, 11 May 2021 Opponents including the Canadian federal government charge doing so would court economic disaster on both sides of the border. Roger Conrad, Forbes, 15 May 2021 Jenner’s attempt to court social conservatives has sometimes put her in a tenuous spot, particularly as one of the most visible transgender women in the US., 6 May 2021 After the 2015 elections Mr Erdogan abandoned the peace process to court the nationalist vote. The Economist, 10 Apr. 2021 Arab communities — and tried to court these same voters by promising to fight crime if reelected. Washington Post, 23 Mar. 2021 But craft brewers also are increasingly trying to figure out ways to court hard seltzer and flavored malt beverage drinkers over to their beers by offering lighter fare. Mike Freeman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 Mar. 2021

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 1b


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

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Court.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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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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