Definition of entertain in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˌen(t)ərˈtān/


[with object]
1Provide (someone) with amusement or enjoyment: a tremendous game that thoroughly entertained the crowd
More example sentences
  • At least we were thoroughly entertained throughout our main course.
  • He was thoroughly entertained by a grotesque comedy that satirized a group of celebrities.
  • Dedicated volunteers entertain the members with games of cards and bingo, while some just meet up for a chat and a cup of tea.
amuse, divert, delight, please, charm, cheer, interest
informal bring the house down
engage, occupy, absorb, engross
1.1Receive (someone) as a guest and provide them with food and drink: a private dining room where members could entertain groups of friends
More example sentences
  • Most families had a house for sleeping and a small cook house in the back, and some had a guest house for entertaining visitors.
  • Having bar furniture in your house, you will be able to entertain friends and guests more easily.
  • It is on their behalf, therefore, that he is taking action if he entertains guests and gives them food and drink.
receive, host, play host/hostess to, invite (around/round/over), throw a party for;
wine and dine, feast, cater for, feed, treat, welcome, fête
receive guests, have people around/round/over, have company, throw/have a party
2Give attention or consideration to (an idea, suggestion, or feeling): Washington entertained little hope of an early improvement in relations
More example sentences
  • At the beginning of the hearing, I entertained considerable sympathy for the predicament in which he found himself.
  • I would not expect them to even entertain the idea that they could report simultaneously as a battle was taking place.
  • What amazed me was that my company director entertained this idea and sounded genuinely interested in participating.
consider, give consideration to, contemplate, think about, give thought to;
countenance, tolerate, support
formal brook


Late Middle English: from French entretenir, based on Latin inter 'among' + tenere 'to hold'. The word originally meant 'maintain, continue', later 'maintain in a certain condition, treat in a certain way', also 'show hospitality' (late 15th century).

  • This is based on Latin inter ‘among’ and tenere ‘to hold’. It originally meant ‘maintain, continue’; in the late 15th century it developed into ‘maintain in a certain condition, treat in a certain way’. The meaning ‘show hospitality’ developed from this in the same period. The noun entertainment dates from the early 16th century; its use for a public performance intended to amuse is early 18th century.

Words that rhyme with entertain

abstain, appertain, arcane, arraign, ascertain, attain, Bahrain, bane, blain, brain, Braine, Cain, Caine, campaign, cane, cinquain, chain, champagne, champaign, Champlain, Charmaine, chicane, chow mein, cocaine, Coleraine, Coltrane, complain, constrain, contain, crane, Dane, deign, demesne, demi-mondaine, detain, disdain, domain, domaine, drain, Duane, Dwane, Elaine, entrain, explain, fain, fane, feign, gain, Germaine, germane, grain, humane, Hussein, inane, Jain, Jane, Jermaine, Kane, La Fontaine, lain, lane, legerdemain, Lorraine, main, Maine, maintain, mane, mise en scène, Montaigne, moraine, mundane, obtain, ordain, Paine, pane, pertain, plain, plane, Port-of-Spain, profane, rain, Raine, refrain, reign, rein, retain, romaine, sane, Seine, Shane, Sinn Fein, skein, slain, Spain, Spillane, sprain, stain, strain, sustain, swain, terrain, thane, train, twain, Ujjain, Ukraine, underlain, urbane, vain, vane, vein, Verlaine, vicereine, wain, wane, Wayne

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: en·ter·tain

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.