en·​ter·​tain | \ ˌen-tər-ˈtān How to pronounce entertain (audio) \
entertained; entertaining; entertains

Definition of entertain

transitive verb

1 : to show hospitality to entertain guests
2 : to provide entertainment for
3a : 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 play against (an opposing team) on one's home field or court
5a archaic : maintain
b obsolete : receive

intransitive verb

: to provide entertainment especially for guests

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Other Words from entertain

entertainer noun

Synonyms for entertain


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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

Examples of entertain in a Sentence

They like to entertain their friends at their summer home. Much of his job as a salesman involves entertaining clients. Jugglers were on hand to entertain the crowd. Our father entertained us with stories. Our father's stories entertained us.
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Recent Examples on the Web Many families who quarantine together find new ways to entertain themselves. Brooklynne Deforest | Contributing Writer, NOLA.com, "COVID restrictions have brought many families closer," 2 Feb. 2021 Black college classic events bring families to dine in local restaurants, stay multiple nights at hotels and entertain themselves at nearby music halls, Squires said, so some cities are jumping on the bandwagon to lure such events. Dallas News, "New Black college classic coming to Globe Life Park in Arlington," 29 Jan. 2021 Kids always want to visit Santa, and this holiday season parents need something — anything — to entertain them after nine months of back-and-forth playground, park, theater and school closures. Andrea Chang, Los Angeles Times, "Santa is socially distant this year. Here’s how you can visit him," 16 Dec. 2020 Travel tales rehearsed and polished many times over to entertain us. Monita Soni, al, "A Christmas story," 14 Dec. 2020 During an interview with GQ published Nov. 19, the stars explained how the series was born after COVID-19 stay-at-home orders shut down clubs, leading people to look for things to entertain themselves with online – and people ate it up. Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY, "'Verzuz' battle between Ashanti, Keyshia Cole postponed after Ashanti tests positive for COVID-19," 14 Dec. 2020 Daina Dias was a teenager working as a bar dancer in Goa, India, when her manager told her to go to a man's house to entertain him. Esha Mitra, CNN, "India's rape laws don't cover transgender people. They say it's putting them at risk," 8 Dec. 2020 Within those rigid rectangles (or, er, millions of microcapsules of electronic ink), worlds unfold to comfort, teach, and entertain us. Ali Francis, SELF, "The 26 Best Books of 2020 (Which Would All Make Excellent Gifts)," 5 Dec. 2020 The coronavirus pandemic has transformed the way Americans eat, shop and entertain themselves. Dan Gallagher, WSJ, "What Stays and What Goes in a Post-Covid-19 World," 23 Nov. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of entertain

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 5a

History and Etymology for entertain

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

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Time Traveler for entertain

Time Traveler

The first known use of entertain was in the 15th century

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Statistics for entertain

Last Updated

25 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Entertain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entertain. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for entertain



English Language Learners Definition of entertain

: 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)


en·​ter·​tain | \ ˌen-tər-ˈtān How to pronounce entertain (audio) \
entertained; entertaining

Kids Definition of entertain

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.

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