- 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.
Idioms about 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 courtout·court, verb (used with object)un·court·ed, adjectivewell-court·ed, adjective
Words nearby court
Other definitions for court (2 of 2)
MORE ABOUT COURT
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.
Learn even more words about related to court at our entries for courtier and courtesan.
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.
How to use court in a sentence
Had the court ruled for the Green Party, officials would have had to scrap millions of ballots already printed and ready to be mailed out.
At best, the lawyers say, the amount paid would offset potential fines in the federal court action.This Billionaire Governor’s Coal Company Might Get a Big Break From His Own Regulators|by Ken Ward Jr.|September 17, 2020|ProPublica
Epic has renewed a request for a court order that would reinstate the app on the store.Apple says Epic is acting as ‘a saboteur, not a martyr’ in app store challenge|radmarya|September 16, 2020|Fortune
As you know, we’ve been trying to get outbreak data from the county through the courts.Morning Report: The Dreaded Purple Tier|Voice of San Diego|September 16, 2020|Voice of San Diego
As other House committees have seen firsthand in recent months, resort to the courts would likely leave the subpoena in limbo for months.“Cover Up”: House Democrats Subpoena Documents That NLRB Refused to Share in Ethics Investigation|by Ian MacDougall|September 15, 2020|ProPublica
Unless there is a court decision that changes our law, we are OK.Jeb Bush’s Unseen Anti-Gay Marriage Emails|Jackie Kucinich|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST
On Dec. 30, she filed a similar lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court.Ex-CBS Reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s Battle Royale With the Feds|Lloyd Grove|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Cassandra, whose hair has already begun to fall out from her court-mandated chemotherapy, could face a similar outcome.
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.
M'Bongo and his whole court are now clothed, I am happy to say, at least to a certain extent.The Pit Town Coronet, Volume I (of 3)|Charles James Wills
When I was at Portugal, there was held at that time the court of justice of the Inquisition.
He also states that the Audiencia is virtually non-existent, and so there is no high court in which justice may be sought.
Rene le Pays, a French poet, died; well known at court by his miscellanies.The Every Day Book of History and Chronology|Joel Munsell
In the court-yard of the hotel was standing the voiture, which had come in some twenty minutes before us.
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)
Other 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.