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 Fernbank crew members will entertain the smaller crew members with scalawag stories. Nancy Clanton, ajc, "Have a swashbuckling adventure at Fernbank’s Pirate Day," 8 Jan. 2021 The references to the owner of Mar-a-Lago and his wife and those that surround them along with the trials of Angie will entertain even those who adore the most powerful man in our world. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "The Fast Forward 2020 Winter Bookies reading list," 4 Jan. 2021 In his work, Pondsmith ultimately sets out to entertain, not preach. Darryn King, The Atlantic, "How Cyberpunk Predicted 2020," 14 Nov. 2020 Raised by foodie parents who liked to entertain, she was exposed to gourmet dinner parties and fancy cocktails at an early age. Kevin Gray, Dallas News, "Lakewood resident turns fruit hobby into a new cocktail infusion kit business," 13 Nov. 2020 No home bar is complete without an elegant decanter and matching glasses, and this seven-piece set is ideal for anyone who loves to entertain. Camryn Rabideau, USA TODAY, "25 best kitchen gifts to buy from Wayfair," 3 Nov. 2020 Filled with virtuosic images of terrible deeds and violence, his movies entertain almost begrudgingly. New York Times, "David Fincher, the Unhappiest Auteur," 1 Jan. 2021 Either way, these documentaries, movies, and TV shows will simultaneously entertain and enlighten you for hours upon hours. Rachel King, Fortune, "The best business documentaries, movies, and TV shows to stream during your time off," 24 Dec. 2020 Programs are designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Get celebrity chef tips, support wildfire first responders with video cookbook," 23 Dec. 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

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Entertain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entertain. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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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

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