en·​ter·​tain | \ˌen-tər-ˈtān \
entertained; entertaining; entertains

Definition of entertain 

transitive verb

1a archaic : maintain

b obsolete : receive

2 : to show hospitality to entertain guests

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 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from entertain

entertainer noun

Synonyms for entertain


amuse, disport, divert, regale, solace

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

If even the most Trump-skeptical Republicans are unwilling to entertain the idea of temporarily frustrating the Republican agenda in order to rein in Trump, what hope is there for the rest of the party? Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "Kavanaugh, the NYT op-ed, and the failure of Trump-skeptical Republicans," 7 Sep. 2018 Now, it’s being shown worldwide to lower income dreamers who can only entertain visions of ownership while watching HGTV. David Lyons, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Boca waterfront mansion a finalist in HGTV's 'Ultimate House Hunt'," 18 June 2018 Bulls analyst Stacey King no longer was the Sooners basketball legend who entertained me most on the TV screen. David Haugh, chicagotribune.com, "Taking Oklahoma's Trae Young, the NBA draft's most polarizing player, would make Bulls must-see TV," 14 June 2018 The Cirque du Soleil performers who entertained the G7 leaders on Friday evening were not the only ones tying themselves in knots. The Economist, "Donald Trump lobs a grenade from afar into the G7," 10 June 2018 However, recent reports have suggested the Mourinho is unwilling to entertain offers for his number six this summer, despite rumours of a rift between the pair. SI.com, "Paulo Dybala Reveals Rumours of Paul Pogba Return to Juventus Make Him 'Very Happy'," 9 June 2018 Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef, author and television personality who entertained viewers by eating his way through more than 80 countries, has died, CNN said Friday. NBC News, "Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef and 'Parts Unknown' host, dies at 61," 8 June 2018 The film introduces us to the royal court, ruled by empresses and emperors who have entertained thousands and raised millions to help others. David Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle, "A sneak preview of the Frameline film fest lineup," 6 June 2018 That’s husband and wife and co-authors Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, who on Thursday entertained a breakfast crowd of booksellers at BookExpo America at Javits Center. Jocelyn Mcclurg, USA TODAY, "Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman offer tasty sampling of their funny 'Love Story'," 31 May 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of entertain

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for entertain

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about entertain

Statistics for entertain

Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for entertain

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \
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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on entertain

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!