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 Magicians, musicians and balloon artists will entertain and pony rides and a little miniature golf course will be set up for the kids. Annie Alleman, chicagotribune.com, "Long Grove hosts smaller chocolate fest with demos, yoga and of course sweet treats," 4 May 2021 Devers would entertain a walk that loaded the bases with no outs, offering the Sox a chance to deliver what likely could have been the knockout blow. BostonGlobe.com, "Rangers outhit Red Sox to carve out a victory," 2 May 2021 With potentially Justin Fields or Trey Lance still available at No. 4, the Falcons could entertain some good offers and move down. Jay Ginsbach, Forbes, "2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Picks, Odds And Best Bets," 28 Apr. 2021 Unfortunately, this is still a talking point in 2021; luckily, the film, premiering April 2 on FX (streaming on FX on Hulu April 3), doesn’t entertain such a ridiculous notion. Shannon Carlin, refinery29.com, "Hysterical Addresses An Urgent, Unspoken Danger For Women Comedians," 1 Apr. 2021 Retailers, fitness centers, libraries, museums, casinos, barbershops and salons, as well as theaters and outdoor entertainment venues, can entertain a quarter of their maximum volume of customers. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Emissions enigma, mask scofflaw’s dare, Ammon Bundy saga: News from around our 50 states," 16 Mar. 2021 Meanwhile, retailers, fitness centers, libraries, museums, casinos, barber shops and salons, as well as theaters and outdoor entertainment venues, can entertain a quarter of their maximum volume of customers. Alex Mann, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore mayor issues new order to keep Baltimore’s more strict COVID measures, deviating from state and neighbors’ plans," 12 Mar. 2021 This spot will entertain the whole family with sand volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and granite jetties that double as fishing points. Zoe Denenberg, Southern Living, "Gear Up for a Family-Friendly Adventure Weekend in Port Aransas, Texas," 8 Mar. 2021 This season’s trade deadline is March 25, and the Spurs will certainly entertain offers for their veteran players on expiring contracts: DeRozan, Aldridge, Patty Mills, Rudy Gay and Trey Lyles. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "Five Spurs storylines to watch as the second half unfolds," 8 Mar. 2021

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

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Entertain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entertain. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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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 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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