affording entertainment; amusing; diverting: We spent an entertaining evening at the theater.

Origin of entertaining

First recorded in 1615–25; entertain + -ing2
Related formsen·ter·tain·ing·ly, adverbnon·en·ter·tain·ing, adjectivequa·si-en·ter·tain·ing, adjectiveself-en·ter·tain·ing, adjectiveun·en·ter·tain·ing, adjectiveun·en·ter·tain·ing·ly, adverb



verb (used with object)

to hold the attention of pleasantly or agreeably; divert; amuse.
to have as a guest; provide food, lodging, etc., for; show hospitality to.
to admit into the mind; consider: He never entertained such ideas.
to hold in the mind; harbor; cherish: They secretly entertained thoughts of revenge.
Archaic. to maintain or keep up.
Obsolete. to give admittance or reception to; receive.

verb (used without object)

to exercise hospitality; entertain company; provide entertainment for guests: They loved to talk, dance, and entertain.

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

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for entertaining

Contemporary Examples of entertaining

Historical Examples of entertaining

  • The wine account—there is one, but it ought to be Mrs. Whitney's; for entertaining.

  • I find the study of electricity so entertaining that I am apt to neglect my other work.'

  • I have very strong reasons indeed, for entertaining that wish.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • Naturally he will be asked about everywhere, and there'll be loads of entertaining to do in return.

    Ruggles of Red Gap

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Their manner of entertaining their guests is familiar and kind.

British Dictionary definitions for entertaining



serving to entertain or give pleasure; diverting; amusing
Derived Formsentertainingly, adverb



to provide amusement for (a person or audience)
to show hospitality to (guests)
(tr) to hold in the mindto entertain an idea

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 entertaining



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper