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 According to a news release from Three Pillars, community members have sent dozens of pieces of mail to residents, which is delivered weekly across campus to brighten their days and keep them entertained with pictures and stories. Evan Frank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Coronavirus has changed the lives of residents of Lake Country senior living communities," 21 Apr. 2020 Each service has different TV shows and movies available, but all have a broad enough selection to keep you entertained for umpteen hours. cleveland, "Readers, tips for taking care of yourselves: Dear Annie," 19 Apr. 2020 Each service has different TV shows and movies available, but all have a broad enough selection to keep you entertained for umpteen hours. Annie Lane, oregonlive, "Dear Annie: Six tips for supporting immune system health," 19 Apr. 2020 The Israel Museum: The museum is offering a virtual tour of many exhibits, as well as virtual children’s activities, to keep everyone entertained. Stacey Leasca, Travel + Leisure, "From Tel Aviv’s Beaches to the World’s Holiest Sites, Here’s How to Take a Virtual Tour of Israel," 14 Apr. 2020 The three came up with an elaborate travel fantasy to keep themselves entertained. Cathy Free, Houston Chronicle, "British ‘Golden Girls’ know how to have fun during their coronavirus stay-at-home isolation," 10 Apr. 2020 Caregivers are supposed to educate children on top of their other obligations; many are turning to games and television series, or seeking new pastimes to help keep their offspring entertained. The Economist, "Audio-entertainment companies are coming to home-schooling parents’ aid," 3 Apr. 2020 What did Colbert do to keep his audience entertained? Nick Romano, EW.com, "Technical difficulties send Daniel Radcliffe, Stephen Colbert interview off the rails," 1 Apr. 2020 Joanna Gaines is doing her part to keep us entertained amid the coronavirus pandemic. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Joanna Gaines's Son Crew Has the Cutest Mini Pool Table and We Need It Now," 29 Mar. 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

27 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Entertain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entertain. Accessed 24 May. 2020.

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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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