View synonyms for court



[ kawrt ]


  1. Law.
    1. a place where justice is administered.
    2. a judicial tribunal duly constituted for the hearing and determination of cases.
    3. a session of a judicial assembly.
  2. an area open to the sky and mostly or entirely surrounded by buildings, walls, etc.
  3. a high interior usually having a glass roof and surrounded by several stories of galleries or the like.
  4. Chiefly Irish. a stately dwelling.
  5. a short street.
  6. a smooth, level quadrangle on which to play tennis, basketball, etc.
  7. one of the divisions of such an area.
  8. the residence of a sovereign or other high dignitary; palace.
  9. a sovereign's or dignitary's retinue.
  10. a sovereign and councilors as the political rulers of a state.
  11. a formal assembly held by a sovereign.
  12. homage paid, as to a king.
  13. special or devoted attention in order to win favor, affection, etc.:

    to pay court to the king.

  14. the body of qualified members of a corporation, council, board, etc.
  15. a branch or lodge of a fraternal society.
  16. Animal Behavior.
    1. an area where animals of a particular species gather to display.
    2. the group of insects, as honeybees, surrounding the queen; retinue.

verb (used with object)

  1. to try to win the favor, preference, or goodwill of:

    to court the rich.

  2. to seek the affections of; woo.
  3. (of animals) to attempt to attract (a mate) by engaging in certain species-specific behaviors.
  4. to attempt to gain (applause, favor, a decision, etc.).
  5. to hold out inducements to; invite.
  6. to act in such a manner as to cause, lead to, or provoke:

    to court disaster by reckless driving.

verb (used without object)

  1. to seek another's love; woo.
  2. (of animals) to engage in certain species-specific behaviors in order to attract a mate.



[ kawrt, kohrt ]


  1. Margaret Smith, born 1942, Australian tennis player.



/ kɔːt /


  1. CourtMargaret1942MAustralianSPORT AND GAMES: tennis player Margaret (née Smith ). born 1942, Australian tennis player, winner of a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles: Australian Open champion 1960–66, 1969–71, and 1973; US Open champion 1962, 1965, 1969–70, and 1973; Wimbledon champion 1963, 1965, and 1970; French Open champion 1962, 1965, 1969–70, and 1973



/ kɔːt /


  1. an area of ground wholly or partly surrounded by walls or buildings
  2. capital when part of a name
    1. a block of flats

      Selwyn Court

    2. a mansion or country house
    3. a short street, sometimes closed at one end
  3. a space inside a building, sometimes surrounded with galleries
    1. the residence, retinues, or household of a sovereign or nobleman
    2. ( as modifier )

      a court ball

  4. a sovereign or prince and his retinue, advisers, etc
  5. any formal assembly, reception, etc, held by a sovereign or nobleman with his courtiers
  6. homage, flattering attention, or amorous approaches (esp in the phrase pay court to someone )
  7. law
    1. an authority having power to adjudicate in civil, criminal, military, or ecclesiastical matters
    2. the regular sitting of such a judicial authority
    3. the room or building in which such a tribunal sits
    1. a marked outdoor or enclosed area used for any of various ball games, such as tennis, squash, etc
    2. a marked section of such an area

      the service court

    1. the board of directors or council of a corporation, company, etc
    2. the supreme council of some universities
  8. a branch of any of several friendly societies
  9. go to court
    to take legal action
  10. hold court
    to preside over admirers, attendants, etc
  11. out of court
    1. without a trial or legal case

      the case was settled out of court

    2. too unimportant for consideration
    3. so as to ridicule completely (in the phrase laugh out of court )
  12. the ball is in your court
    you are obliged to make the next move


  1. to attempt to gain the love of (someone); woo
  2. tr to pay attention to (someone) in order to gain favour
  3. tr to try to obtain (fame, honour, etc)
  4. tr to invite, usually foolishly, as by taking risks

    to court disaster

  5. old-fashioned.
    to be conducting a serious emotional relationship usually leading to marriage

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Other Words From

  • out·court verb (used with object)
  • un·court·ed adjective
  • well-court·ed adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of court1

First recorded in 1125–75; Middle English co(u)rt, from Anglo-French, Old French, from Latin cohort- (stem of cohors ) “farmyard”; cohort

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Word History and Origins

Origin of court1

C12: from Old French, from Latin cohors cohort

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. hold court,
    1. to have a formal assembly of a judicial tribunal or one held by a sovereign.
    2. to be surrounded by one's disciples or admirers, giving advice, exchanging gossip, receiving compliments, etc.
  2. out of court,
    1. without a legal hearing; privately:

      The case will be settled out of court.

    2. out of the question; undeserving of discussion:

      This wild scheme is entirely out of court.

More idioms and phrases containing court

see ball's in your court ; day in court ; friend in court ; hold court ; kangaroo court ; laugh out of court ; pay court to .

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Example Sentences

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.

Epic has renewed a request for a court order that would reinstate the app on the store.

From Fortune

As you know, we’ve been trying to get outbreak data from the county through the courts.

As other House committees have seen firsthand in recent months, resort to the courts would likely leave the subpoena in limbo for months.

Unless there is a court decision that changes our law, we are OK.

On Dec. 30, she filed a similar lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court.

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?”

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.

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.

In the court-yard of the hotel was standing the voiture, which had come in some twenty minutes before us.


Related Words

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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.”

Dig deeper

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.

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.