verb en·ter·tain \ ˌen-tər-ˈtān \
Updated on: 18 Feb 2018

Definition of entertain

transitive verb
1 a archaic : maintain
b obsolete : receive
2 : to show hospitality to
  • entertain guests
3 a : to keep, hold, or maintain in the mind
  • I entertain grave doubts about her sincerity
b : to receive and take into consideration
  • refused to entertain our plea
4 : to provide entertainment for
5 : to play against (an opposing team) on one's home field or court
intransitive verb
: to provide entertainment especially for guests



Examples of entertain in a Sentence

  1. They like to entertain their friends at their summer home.

  2. Much of his job as a salesman involves entertaining clients.

  3. Jugglers were on hand to entertain the crowd.

  4. Our father entertained us with stories.

  5. Our father's stories entertained us.

Recent Examples of entertain from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'entertain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of entertain

Middle English entertinen, from Middle French entretenir, from entre- inter- + tenir to hold — more at tenable

Synonym Discussion of entertain

amuse, divert, entertain mean to pass or cause to pass the time pleasantly. amuse suggests that one's attention is engaged lightly.
    • amuse yourselves while I make dinner
divert implies distracting attention from worry or routine occupation especially by something funny.
    • a light comedy to divert the tired businessman
entertain suggests supplying amusement by specially contrived methods.
    • a magician entertaining children at a party

ENTERTAIN Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of entertain for English Language Learners

  • : to have people as guests in your home or in a public place (such as a restaurant)

  • : to perform for (an audience) : to provide amusement for (someone) by singing, acting, etc.

  • : to provide or be entertainment for (someone)

ENTERTAIN Defined for Kids


verb en·ter·tain \ ˌen-tər-ˈtān \

Definition of entertain for Students

entertained; entertaining
1 : to host a social event
  • My parents entertain often.
2 : to have as a guest
  • entertain friends
3 : to perform for or provide amusement for
  • Comedians entertained the crowd.
4 : to have in mind
  • She entertained thoughts of quitting.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up entertain? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


to blend or mix together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

February 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-dog-in-snow-jumping-to-grab-a-heart-shaped-balloon-the-snow-and-heart-balloon-indicate-that-the-month-being-represented-is-april-and-the-dog-is-just-kinda-cute
  • Which is a synonym of sanguine?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!