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

Other Words from entertain

entertainer noun

Synonyms for entertain


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.
Recent Examples on the Web On December 18th, Trump hosted Flynn and a group of other election deniers in the Oval Office, where, for the first time in American history, a President would seriously entertain using the military to overturn an election. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, 8 Aug. 2022 Sesame Street characters entertain them with story times, dance parties, puppet-making and even tea! Karen Cicero, Good Housekeeping, 19 May 2022 For Baumgarten, Program III captures the Miami company’s mission to both entertain and educate audiences. Sean Erwin, Sun Sentinel, 10 May 2022 Perhaps realizing how depressing this line of inquiry could get, Wang doesn’t entertain it for too long — just enough to convey some sense of the pandemic’s staggering human toll and the domino-effect consequences of turning a blind eye to reality. Los Angeles Times, 12 Aug. 2021 There are plenty of things to do for families looking to entertain their kids for free. Amy Schwabe, Journal Sentinel, 15 July 2022 The home feels livable, warm, and comfortable and is ideal for those who love history and love to entertain. Emmamreynolds1, Robb Report, 14 July 2022 In addition, there are always a selection of family-friendly panels aimed to entertain younger fans (and give parents a break from all of the walking). San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 July 2022 Haddish and Burns came back out for a bit to entertain the crowd before the legendary Patti LaBelle was slated to perform. Okla Jones, Essence, 7 July 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About entertain

Time Traveler for entertain

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near entertain

enter someone's mind/head



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for entertain

Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Entertain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entertain. Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for entertain


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on entertain

Nglish: Translation of entertain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of entertain for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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