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amuse

[uh-myooz]
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verb (used with object), a·mused, a·mus·ing.
  1. to hold the attention of (someone) pleasantly; entertain or divert in an enjoyable or cheerful manner: She amused the guests with witty conversation.
  2. to cause mirth, laughter, or the like, in: The comedian amused the audience with a steady stream of jokes.
  3. to cause (time, leisure, etc.) to pass agreeably.
  4. Archaic. to keep in expectation by flattery, pretenses, etc.
  5. Obsolete.
    1. to engross; absorb.
    2. to puzzle; distract.
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Origin of amuse

1470–80; < Middle French amuser “to divert, amuse”; see a-5, muse
Related formsa·mus·a·ble, adjectivea·mus·er, nounun·a·mus·a·ble, adjectiveun·a·mus·a·bly, adverb

Synonyms

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Synonym study

Amuse, divert, entertain mean to occupy the attention with something pleasant. That which amuses is usually playful or humorous and pleases the fancy. Divert implies turning the attention from serious thoughts or pursuits to something light, amusing, or lively. That which entertains usually does so because of a plan or program that engages and holds the attention by being pleasing and sometimes instructive.

Usage note

See bemuse.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

tickle, gratify, wow, please, delight, cheer, charm, regale, fracture, slay, occupy, kill, interest, gladden, divert, panic, grab

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British Dictionary definitions for amuse

amuse

verb (tr)
  1. to keep pleasantly occupied; entertain; divert
  2. to cause to laugh or smile
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Word Origin

C15: from Old French amuser to cause to be idle, from muser to muse 1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for amuse

v.

late 15c., "to divert the attention, beguile, delude," from Middle French amuser "divert, cause to muse," from a "at, to" (but here probably a causal prefix) + muser "ponder, stare fixedly" (see muse (v.)). Sense of "divert from serious business, tickle the fancy of" is recorded from 1630s, but through 18c. the primary meaning was "deceive, cheat" by first occupying the attention. Bemuse retains more of the original meaning. Related: Amused; amusing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper