Definition of court in English:

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Pronunciation: /kôrt/


1 (also court of law) A tribunal presided over by a judge, judges, or a magistrate in civil and criminal cases: a settlement was reached during the first sitting of the court she will take the matter to court [as modifier]: a court case
More example sentences
  • By June this year, the Task Force had successfully commenced 17 criminal prosecutions in the courts of law with only three of the prosecuted cases falling through.
  • Even in a court of law the judge accepts my expert witness opinion without adulteration or hesitation, and you are not beyond the courts.
  • It is inherent in the proper conduct of judicial proceedings in a court of law.
court of law, bench, bar, judicature, tribunal;
chiefly British  law court, chancery
1.1The place where a court meets.
Example sentences
  • Visits to police stations, jails, courts and offices of the Human Rights Commission and Women's Commission will be part of the functions.
  • I met Catherine at the courts after lunch, both of us dreading the hours of grading and drills.
  • In the escort service, the police's main role was to supervise the transfer of remand prisoners between police stations and courts.
1.2 (the court) The judge or judges presiding at a court.
Example sentences
  • A minimum of 60 ratifications is required to establish the 18-judge court at The Hague.
2A quadrangular area, either open or covered, marked out for ball games such as tennis or basketball: I prefer an indoor court
More example sentences
  • Leisure facilities include gym, spa (with sauna and steam bath), jogging track, tennis and squash courts.
  • The hotel has it's own private beach, gym, tennis squash and badminton courts.
  • The Centre has four squash courts and also boasts saunas, a steam room and sunbeds, a crèche, a gym and an aerobics studio.
2.1A quadrangular area surrounded by a building or group of buildings.
Example sentences
  • Vaulted archways lead to shaded courts, while gardens surround the buildings on all sides.
  • Traditional Cambridge colleges, modelled on monastic cloisters, consist of courts surrounded by walls of individual rooms.
  • The most important room on view is the Harem, a compound of around 300 shining tiled chambers on several levels, connected by arcaded courts and fountain gardens.
2.2A subdivision of a building, usually a large hall extending to the ceiling with galleries and staircases.
Example sentences
  • One treks through labyrinthine passages to discrete galleries and courts, even to the stacks and aisles of the Carnegie Library within the complex.
  • The museum comprises a torso of galleries linked to a smaller head of entrance court and offices.
  • When visitors now enter the building the vista continues across the daylit central court into the rear garden.
3The establishment, retinue, and courtiers of a sovereign: the emperor is shown with his court
More example sentences
  • He had determined to rule England from his court and household, and not through the nobility.
  • In early medieval times, the court, or household, was the centre of government.
  • In 1856, during a stay in London, he sold 31 pictures to the royal household and court.
royal household, retinue, entourage, train, suite, courtiers, attendants
3.1A sovereign and his or her councilors, constituting a ruling power: relations between the king and the imperial court
More example sentences
  • The expansion of trade along the Thames, and the broadening power of the royal court led to a London property boom.
  • They also transacted business for the imperial court and were awarded ranks and privileges.
  • Leonardo clearly believed that wealth, patronage, and political power lay in the courts to the east of mainland Europe.
3.2A sovereign’s residence.
Example sentences
  • He also continued his law career taking up residence at the courts of Mainz before 1670.
  • The re-established papacy soon transferred its court to the Vatican Palace.
  • Red deer, along with various wildfowl and fish, were all important elements in the menus of the royal court of Henry VIII.
royal residence, palace, castle, chateau


[with object] dated
1Be involved with romantically, typically with the intention of marrying: he was courting a girl from the neighboring farm [no object]: we went to the movies when we were courting
More example sentences
  • I was attractive, at least that is what the suitors would say when they came with the intentions of courting me.
  • Memories flood her mind bringing back images of the man who had once besotted her, courted her and married her, of the man who became her heart and soul.
  • She watched her older sisters be courted and then married, and she began emulating them at an early age.
1.1(Of a male bird or other animal) try to attract (a mate).
Example sentences
  • Along the way, the birds court and mate, thwart the red-tailed hawks, and breed.
  • Males of both species readily courted females of both species.
  • Two percent of male ostriches ignore females and instead court other males with a lively dance.
1.2Pay special attention to (someone) in an attempt to win their support or favor: Western politicians courted the leaders of the newly independent states
More example sentences
  • More displays like last night's will court him no favours in Detroit or elsewhere.
  • Conner had been the first, albeit a bit unknowingly, to come to the castle in an attempt to court her.
  • No politician will come courting us until I can say that we have several hundred thousand members.
curry favor with, cultivate, try to win over, make up to, ingratiate oneself with
informal suck up to, butter up
1.3Go to great lengths to win (favorable attention): he never had to court the approval of the political elite
More example sentences
  • Although happy to be given the retrospective collection, she didn't court the attention.
  • Well, these bags have been courting attention this past fortnight or so.
  • But let's not forget that she courted attention herself.
seek, pursue, go after, strive for, solicit
1.4Risk incurring (misfortune) because of the way one behaves: he has often courted controversy
More example sentences
  • So he courted his own fate, he was tricked by an extremely sophisticated ruse and met his death.
  • The size and volume of forms and the amount of tax law an individual is expected to comprehend courts the risk that tax evasion will see a quantum leap.
  • But public service broadcasting is about making mistakes, taking risks and courting unpopularity.
risk, invite, attract, bring on oneself



go to court

Take legal action.
Example sentences
  • It is all about stopping the citizen from being armed with the resources to go to court to vindicate legal rights.
  • The point has never been legally challenged, but pro-hunt campaigners believe there is a case and have gone to court to seek a judicial review.
  • But is that an argument which is put by defence lawyers when these cases go to court?

hold court

see hold1.

in court

Appearing as a party or an attorney in a court of law.
Example sentences
  • The case was adjourned so that all three defendants could appear in court together.
  • It is odd that you can get an acquittal, without the defendant even having to appear in court.
  • A man was arrested and appeared in court after a pedestrian and his terrier were killed.

out of court

1Before a legal hearing can take place: they are trying to settle the squabble out of court [as adjective]: an out-of-court settlement
More example sentences
  • He threatened legal action but an out of court settlement was reached.
  • One of the things the legal group has been working on is the encouragement of out of court settlements in legal disputes.
  • Unfortunately, it was settled out of court and the settlement wasn't made public.
2Treated as impossible or not worthy of consideration: the price would put it out of court for most private buyers

pay court to

Pay flattering attention to someone in order to win favor.
Example sentences
  • He does not tell the women he pays court to in England about his forlorn Irish sweetheart.
  • Voltaire learnt from this mistake, and preferred to pay court to the other great enlightened despot of the age, Catherine II of Russia, from a safe distance and only in writing.
  • Otherwise, I should think I were paying court to a veritable shrew.


Middle English: from Old French cort, from Latin cohors, cohort- 'yard or retinue'. The verb is influenced by Old Italian corteare, Old French courtoyer. Compare with cohort.

Words that rhyme with court

abort, apport, assort, athwart, aught, besought, bethought, bort, bought, brought, caught, cavort, comport, consort, contort, Cort, distraught, escort, exhort, export, extort, fort, fought, fraught, import, methought, misreport, mort, naught, nought, Oort, ought, outfought, port, Porte, purport, quart, rort, short, snort, sort, sought, sport, support, swart, taught, taut, thought, thwart, tort, transport, wart, wrought

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: court

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