Definition of court in English:


Syllabification: court
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.
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    • 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.
    More 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.
    More 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.
    More 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
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    • 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.
    More 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 Back to top  
  • 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).
    More 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
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    • 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.
More 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.
More 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.
More 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.

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