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 After entertaining fans at Wrigley Field for 33 years, organist Gary Pressy plans to retire at the end of the 2019 season, according to the Chicago Tribune. Jenna West, SI.com, "Longtime Wrigley Field Organist Gary Pressy to Retire at End of Season," 14 Sep. 2019 His fondest memories were spent in Gloucester, MA, taking care of his house, entertaining friends and fishing on his boat. courant.com, "Donald Sheppard," 8 Sep. 2019 The match was an entertaining one for the 4,433 fans in attendance, with Birmingham showcasing its energy and capability to create frequent scoring opportunities and to limit the visiting team on defense. Cheryl Wray, al, "Birmingham Legion FC beats Charlotte Independence for 3rd straight win," 27 July 2019 In an attempt to wow fair-goers with a new, entertaining menu item, the Minnesota State Fair found itself in a jam. Claudia Harmata, PEOPLE.com, "Minnesota State Fair Pulls Syringe Donuts from Its Menu After Backlash," 16 July 2019 Ray was big on entertaining industry folk in his bungalow and hosted Sunday gatherings where Dean, Dennis Hopper, and other actors would often show up. Leena Kim, Town & Country, "The Scandalous Secret History of the Chateau Marmont," 24 May 2019 Fun but not dumb, and arty without a trace of affectation, the Cars are one of those rare rock groups whose work entertains without becoming condescending. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Ric Ocasek of The Cars spoke candidly in our 1984 interview," 16 Sep. 2019 Steve also performed with the Hadassah Players entertaining at local assisted living and nursing home facilities. sun-sentinel.com, "Deaths in South Florida: 9/15," 15 Sep. 2019 Although consistently entertaining, Brown did not romanticize life in the wilderness. cleveland.com, "Voyageur canoe expedition transports park visitors back to historic fur trade," 15 Sep. 2019

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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Statistics for entertain

Last Updated

27 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for entertain

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

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More Definitions for entertain


How to pronounce entertain (audio)

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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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).


to engage in dissolute behavior

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