What does entertain mean?

Definitions for entertain
ˌɛn tərˈteɪnen·ter·tain

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word entertain.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. entertainverb

    provide entertainment for

  2. entertain, think of, toy with, flirt with, think aboutverb

    take into consideration, have in view

    "He entertained the notion of moving to South America"

  3. harbor, harbour, hold, entertain, nurseverb

    maintain (a theory, thoughts, or feelings)

    "bear a grudge"; "entertain interesting notions"; "harbor a resentment"


  1. entertainverb

    To amuse (someone); .

    The motivational speaker not only instructed but also entertained the audience.

  2. entertainverb

    To have someone over at one's home for a party or visit.

    They enjoy entertaining a lot.

  3. entertainverb

    To have a thought in mind.

    The committee would like to entertain the idea of reducing the budget figures.

  4. Etymology: From entretenir, from entre + tenir, from inter + teneo. For the noun, compare entretien.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. To ENTERTAINverb

    Etymology: entretenir, French.

    His head was so well stored a magazine, that nothing could be proposed which he was not readily furnished to entertain any one in. John Locke.

    You shall find an apartment fitted up for you, and shall be every day entertained with beef or mutton of my own feeding. Joseph Addison, Spectator, №. 549.

    Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Heb. iii. 2.

    Heav’n, set ope thy everlasting gates,
    To entertain my vows of thanks and praise. William Shakespeare, Hen. VI.

    How many men would you require to the furnishing of this which you take in hand? And how long space would you have them entertained? Edmund Spenser, Ireland.

    You, sir, I entertain for one of my hundred; only, I do not like the fashion of your garments. William Shakespeare, King Lear.

    I’ll weep and sigh,
    And, leaving so his service, follow you,
    So please you entertain me. William Shakespeare, Cymbeline.

    This is the severest purpose God can entertain towards us. Decay of Piety.

    David entertained himself with the meditations of God’s law, not his hidden decrees or counsels. Decay of Piety.

    The history of the Royal Society shews how well philosophy becometh a narration: the progress of knowledge is as entertaining as that of arms. Henry Felton, on the Classicks.

    They were capable of entertaining themselves on a thousand different subjects, without running into the common topicks. Joseph Addison, on Ancient Medals.

    In gardens, art can only reduce the beauties of nature to a figure which the common eye may better take in, and is therefore more entertained with. Alexander Pope, Iliads. Pref. to the.

    Reason can never permit the mind to entertain probability, in opposition to knowledge and certainty. John Locke.


  1. entertain

    Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience or gives pleasure and delight. It can be an idea or a task, but is more likely to be one of the activities or events that have developed over thousands of years specifically for the purpose of keeping an audience's attention. Although people's attention is held by different things because individuals have different preferences, most forms of entertainment are recognisable and familiar. Storytelling, music, drama, dance, and different kinds of performance exist in all cultures and were supported in royal courts and developed into sophisticated forms, over time becoming available to all citizens. The process has been accelerated in modern times by an entertainment industry that records and sells entertainment products. Entertainment evolves and can be adapted to suit any scale, ranging from an individual who chooses a private entertainment from a now enormous array of pre-recorded products; to a banquet adapted for two; to any size or type of party, with appropriate music and dance; to performances intended for thousands; and even for a global audience. The experience of being entertained has come to be strongly associated with amusement, so that one common understanding of the idea is fun and laughter, although many entertainments have a serious purpose. This may be the case in the various forms of ceremony, celebration, religious festival, or satire for example. Hence, there is the possibility that what appears as entertainment may also be a means of achieving insight or intellectual growth. An important aspect of entertainment is the audience, which turns a private recreation or leisure activity into entertainment. The audience may have a passive role, as in the case of persons watching a play, opera, television show, or film; or the audience role may be active, as in the case of games, where the participant/audience roles may be routinely reversed. Entertainment can be public or private, involving formal, scripted performance, as in the case of theatre or concerts; or unscripted and spontaneous, as in the case of children's games. Most forms of entertainment have persisted over many centuries, evolving due to changes in culture, technology, and fashion for example with stage magic. Films and video games, for example, although they use newer media, continue to tell stories, present drama, and play music. Festivals devoted to music, film, or dance allow audiences to be entertained over a number of consecutive days. Some entertainment, such as public executions, are now illegal in most countries. Activities such as fencing or archery, once used in hunting or war, have become spectator sports. In the same way, other activities, such as cooking, have developed into performances among professionals, staged as global competitions and then broadcast for entertainment. What is entertainment for one group or individual may be regarded as work or an act of cruelty by another. The familiar forms of entertainment have the capacity to cross over different media and have demonstrated a seemingly unlimited potential for creative remix. This has ensured the continuity and longevity of many themes, images, and structures.


  1. entertain

    To entertain means to provide enjoyment, amusement or pleasure to someone, often through various forms of media like music, film, theater, sports etc. It can also mean to hold or maintain in the mind or consider something, as in entertaining an idea or thoughts. Alternatively, it can refer to receiving or hosting guests or visitors hospitably.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Entertainverb

    to be at the charges of; to take or keep in one's service; to maintain; to support; to harbor; to keep

  2. Entertainverb

    to give hospitable reception and maintenance to; to receive at one's board, or into one's house; to receive as a guest

  3. Entertainverb

    to engage the attention of agreeably; to amuse with that which makes the time pass pleasantly; to divert; as, to entertain friends with conversation, etc

  4. Entertainverb

    to give reception to; to receive, in general; to receive and take into consideration; to admit, treat, or make use of; as, to entertain a proposal

  5. Entertainverb

    to meet or encounter, as an enemy

  6. Entertainverb

    to keep, hold, or maintain in the mind with favor; to keep in the mind; to harbor; to cherish; as, to entertain sentiments

  7. Entertainverb

    to lead on; to bring along; to introduce

  8. Entertainverb

    to receive, or provide entertainment for, guests; as, he entertains generously

  9. Entertainnoun


  10. Etymology: [Cf. F. entretien, fr. entretenir.]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Entertain

    en-tėr-tān′, v.t. to receive and treat hospitably: to hold the attention of and amuse by conversation: to amuse: to receive and take into consideration: to keep or hold in the mind: to harbour.—n. Entertain′er.—p.adj. Entertain′ing, affording entertainment: amusing.—adv. Entertain′ingly.—n. Entertain′ment, act of entertaining: hospitality at table: that which entertains: the provisions of the table: a banquet: amusement: a performance which delights. [Fr. entretenir—L. inter, among, tenēre, to hold.]

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'entertain' in Verbs Frequency: #913

Anagrams for entertain »

  1. Tarentine

  2. terentian

How to pronounce entertain?

How to say entertain in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of entertain in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of entertain in Pythagorean Numerology is: 7

Examples of entertain in a Sentence

  1. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus:

    The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts, therefore guard accordingly and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue, and reasonable nature.

  2. Jeb Bush:

    If they want to hear someone who's authentic, who has plans for the future, who has leadership skills to fix a few big complex things, who will listen to them and not necessarily entertain them, then they should come to my event, or come to both, I don't care. I'm happy to compare and contrast.

  3. Janna Koretz:

    Learning how to entertain oneself and developing patience are key developmental tools for children, and developing an active imagination is so very important for children.

  4. Raina Nicole:

    Do not entertain the fool unless you want the joke to be on you..

  5. Brian McGuinness:

    TED content does not only entertain, but also educates and engages on topics that we believe are relevant to our guests, the goal is to have these events and experiences help spark guests' creativity and innovation, while inspiring new perspectives.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for entertain

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"entertain." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 12 Apr. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/entertain>.

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