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verb (used with object)
  1. to hold the attention of pleasantly or agreeably; divert; amuse.
  2. to have as a guest; provide food, lodging, etc., for; show hospitality to.
  3. to admit into the mind; consider: He never entertained such ideas.
  4. to hold in the mind; harbor; cherish: They secretly entertained thoughts of revenge.
  5. Archaic. to maintain or keep up.
  6. Obsolete. to give admittance or reception to; receive.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to exercise hospitality; entertain company; provide entertainment for guests: They loved to talk, dance, and entertain.
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Origin of entertain

1425–75; late Middle English entertenen to hold mutually < Middle French entretenirVulgar Latin *intertenēre, equivalent to Latin inter- inter- + tenēre to hold
Related formso·ver·en·ter·tained, adjectivepre·en·ter·tain, verb (used with object)un·en·ter·tained, adjectivewell-en·ter·tained, adjective

Synonyms for entertain

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Synonym study

1. See amuse.

Antonyms for entertain

1. bore. 3. reject.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for entertain

satisfy, gratify, inspire, enthrall, relax, captivate, comfort, please, beguile, distract, delight, cheer, charm, regale, feed, dine, invite, welcome, treat, contemplate

Examples from the Web for entertain

Contemporary Examples of entertain

Historical Examples of entertain

  • A non-loving Universal Thought was too monstrous a concept to entertain.

  • It is doubtful if it was mentally prepared to entertain it, or evolve the idea.

  • One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.

  • My Governor, I am sure, will always be proud to entertain one whom I so much esteem.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • After being here scarcely a week, I begin to entertain the same opinion.


    Theodor Hertzka

British Dictionary definitions for entertain


  1. to provide amusement for (a person or audience)
  2. to show hospitality to (guests)
  3. (tr) to hold in the mindto entertain an idea
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Word Origin for entertain

C15: from Old French entretenir, from entre- mutually + tenir to hold, from Latin tenēre
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 entertain


late 15c., "to keep up, maintain, to keep (someone) in a certain frame of mind," from Middle French entretenir (12c.), from Old French entretenir "hold together, stick together, support," from entre- "among" (from Latin inter; see inter-) + tenir "to hold" (from Latin tenere; see tenet).

Sense of "have a guest" is late 15c.; that of "amuse" is 1620s. Meaning "to allow (something) to consideration" (of opinions, notions, etc.) is 1610s. Related: Entertained; entertaining.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper