- a place where justice is administered.
- a judicial tribunal duly constituted for the hearing and determination of cases.
- a session of a judicial assembly.
- an area where animals of a particular species gather to display.
- the group of insects, as honeybees, surrounding the queen; retinue.
verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
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Idioms for court
- to have a formal assembly of a judicial tribunal or one held by a sovereign.
- to be surrounded by one's disciples or admirers, giving advice, exchanging gossip, receiving compliments, etc.
- without a legal hearing; privately: The case will be settled out of court.
- out of the question; undeserving of discussion: This wild scheme is entirely out of court.
Origin of court
OTHER WORDS FROM courtoutcourt, verb (used with object)un·court·ed, adjectiveun·court·ing, adjectivewell-courted, adjective
Words nearby court
Definition for court (2 of 2)
BEHIND THE WORD
Where does court come from?
Court of law. Tennis court. Courtship. Courtyard. Courtesy. Ever notice that all of these words and phrases—and many others—include court in some form? That’s no coincidence.
The word court entered English around 1125–75. It comes from French, ultimately from the Latin cohors, variously meaning “farmyard, armed force, cohort, retinue.” More about that Latin noun cohors in the next section.
Today, if someone says they went to court, they are referring to the place where lawyers argue cases, juries weigh evidence, and judges issue sentences. (We hope they weren’t in any trouble.) The legal senses of court are among the word’s oldest, found at least by the end of the 1200s in the sense of “assembly of judges.”
Even older is the royal court. Think of those medieval princes and princesses doing their princely and princessly things in courts. Found in the mid- to late 1100s, that court originally referred to the place where a sovereign lived, as well as to an assembly that that ruler held.
Whether used of royalty and law, these early senses of court—still in use today—suggest an underlying idea of an official group gathered together in an area set aside for special purposes.
Speaking of physical spaces, many sports are played on courts, including basketball, volleyball, and tennis and other racquet sports. The original sports court, as far as the word is concerned, was for tennis. This draws on that basic sense of court as “an enclosed area.”
How are the words courtesy and courtship connected to court? Courtesy (“polite behavior”), along with the adjective courteous, comes from French words meaning “having manners fitting for the court of a prince.” Fun fact: curtsy,“a respectful bow made by women and girls, consisting of bending the knees and lowering the body,” is a variant of courtesy.
Courtship stems from court in its verb sense of “to woo,” as in He courted his partner over romantic emails and text messages. Court, as a verb, can also mean “to win the favor (of another).” These senses are connected to the idea of paying court—homage, attention, and well, courtesy—to someone, as they historically would have at a court.
Did you know ... ?
In the previous section, we noted that court ultimately comes from Latin cohors. One of its meanings was “armed force”—and originally from a particular place or military camp, as if grouped, or enclosed, together. Cohors, as you may have guessed by now, is the source of the English cohort. In ancient Rome, a cohort was specifically one of the 10 divisions in an ancient Roman legion, numbering from 300 to 600 soldiers. Cohort entered English around 1475–85 and evolved to more generally mean “a group or company” and “an associate or accomplice.”
The Latin cohors also meant “farmyard.” If we break down this word, we get co- (“with, together”) and a form related to hortus, meaning “garden.” It’s not too hard to imagine a garden and a yard as enclosed area, like a court. And guess what? Those three words—garden, yard, and court—are all related. You may recognize hortus in one of its English derivatives: horticulture.
Example sentences from the Web for court
The court acknowledges that a lot of people are in this situation.Hundreds of Thousands of Nursing Home Residents May Not Be Able to Vote in November Because of the Pandemic|by Ryan McCarthy and Jack Gillum|August 26, 2020|ProPublica
At the time of the court hearing, the housing authority was under new leadership.She Was Sued Over Rent She Didn’t Owe. It Took Seven Court Dates to Prove She Was Right.|by Danielle Ohl, Capital Gazette, and Talia Buford and Beena Raghavendran, ProPublica|August 25, 2020|ProPublica
On the tax front, a court ruled in July that Apple did nothing wrong.Apple CEO Tim Cook is fulfilling another Steve Jobs vision|Rachel Schallom|August 24, 2020|Fortune
New York said in the court filing that one area of focus is valuations of the Seven Springs property in Bedford, New Castle and North Castle in Westchester County.New York’s AG is investigating whether Trump’s company falsely reported asset valuations to get loans|Lee Clifford|August 24, 2020|Fortune
That’s not the case, as ByteDance will find out in court if they challenge the process.
Unless there is a court decision that changes our law, we are OK.
He added: “People say he deserves his day in court… Do we have enough time?”Bill Maher: Hundreds of Millions of Muslims Support Attack on ‘Charlie Hebdo’|Lloyd Grove|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
The court ruled she lacked the maturity to make her own medical decisions.
“He turned pale, trembled to a great degree, was much agitated, and began to cry,” she told the court.New York’s Most Tragic Ghost Loves Minimalist Swedish Fashion|Nina Strochlic|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
You can still get your license at the court—just not actually get married there.The Back Alley, Low Blow-Ridden Fight to Stop Gay Marriage in Florida Is Finally Over|Jay Michaelson|January 5, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Then the Court adjourned till to morrow morning Eight of the Clock.
Whereupon the court rose and left the room, looking justice itself.'Brother Bosch', an Airman's Escape from Germany|Gerald Featherstone Knight
The defendant's whereabouts were unknown to us, your Honor, and the court allowed us to serve notice by publication.Lightnin'|Frank Bacon
A sculpture-hall, on which you can look down from a balustrade in a room overhead, as if into a Pompeiian court.The Catholic World; Volume I, Issues 1-6|E. Rameur
The business having been thus got through, the Court rose and went away.The Humourous Story of Farmer Bumpkin's Lawsuit|Richard Harris
British Dictionary definitions for court (1 of 2)
- a block of flatsSelwyn Court
- a mansion or country house
- a short street, sometimes closed at one end
- the residence, retinues, or household of a sovereign or nobleman
- (as modifier)a court ball
- an authority having power to adjudicate in civil, criminal, military, or ecclesiastical matters
- the regular sitting of such a judicial authority
- the room or building in which such a tribunal sits
- a marked outdoor or enclosed area used for any of various ball games, such as tennis, squash, etc
- a marked section of such an areathe service court
- the board of directors or council of a corporation, company, etc
- mainly British the supreme council of some universities
- without a trial or legal casethe case was settled out of court
- too unimportant for consideration
- British so as to ridicule completely (in the phrase laugh out of court)
Word Origin for court
British Dictionary definitions for court (2 of 2)
Idioms and Phrases with court
see ball's in your court; day in court; friend in court; hold court; kangaroo court; laugh out of court; pay court to.