From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



The verb is derived from Middle English disporten, desporten (to take part in entertainment, sport, etc., to pass time, amuse oneself, be merry; to amuse, entertain; to cheer, console; to behave (in a particular way), deport; to be active, to busy; to relieve (someone of a task); to prevent (someone from attending)),[1] from Anglo-Norman desporter, Old French desporter, deporter, depporter (to amuse, entertain; to pass time, amuse oneself; to forbear; to stop),[2] from Latin deportāre, present active infinitive of dēportō (to bring, convey; to bring or take home; to carry along or down; to banish, transport), from dē- (prefix meaning ‘from, off’) + portō (to bear, carry; to bring, convey) (from Proto-Indo-European *per- (to carry forth; fare)). The English word is a doublet of deport and sport.

The noun is derived from Middle English disport, desport (activity providing amusement, pleasure or relaxation; entertainment, recreation; game, pastime, sport; pleasure derived from an activity; source of comfort; consolation, solace; conduct, deportment; customary behaviour, manner; act, activity; departure),[3] from Anglo-Norman disport, Old French desport, deport (game, pastime, sport; pleasure, recreation; disport), from desporter: see further above.[4]



disport (third-person singular simple present disports, present participle disporting, simple past and past participle disported)

  1. (transitive, intransitive, reflexive, dated) To amuse oneself divertingly or playfully; in particular, to cavort or gambol.
    Synonyms: cheer, divert, enjoy, frolic
    • 1629, M. N. [pseudonym; William Camden], “Anagrams”, in Remaines Concerning Brittaine: But Especially England, and the Inhabitants thereof: [], 4th edition, London: Printed by A[dam] I[slip] for Symon Waterson, [], →OCLC, page 145:
      Afterward, as appeareth by Euſtachius, there was ſome Greekes diſported themſelues herein, as he which turned Atlas for his heauie burthen in ſupporting Heauen, to Talas, that is, Wretched; Arete, Vertue, into Erate, that is, Louely; Ilaros, Merrie, into Liaros, that is, warme.
    • 1644 January 27, Thomas Jackson, quoting Daniel Taylor, chapter III, in The Life of John Goodwin, [], 2nd greatly improved edition, London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, published 1872, →OCLC, page 77:
      For my part, I love not to disport myself at the weakness of any man, or to turn his folly into laughter: for what were this, but to reflect dishonour upon the same nature, wherein he partakes with myself?
    • 1714, Alexander Pope, “The Rape of the Lock”, in The Works of Mr. Alexander Pope, volume I, London: [] W[illiam] Bowyer, for Bernard Lintot, [], published 1717, →OCLC, canto II, page 133:
      He ſummons ſtrait his Denizens of air; / The lucid ſquadrons round the ſails repair: / [...] / Looſe to the wind their airy garments flew, / Thin glitt'ring textures of the filmy dew; / Dipt in the richeſt tincture of the skies, / Where light diſports in ever-mingling dies, [...]
    • 1812, Lord Byron, “Canto I”, in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. A Romaunt, London: Printed for John Murray, []; William Blackwood, Edinburgh; and John Cumming, Dublin; by Thomas Davison, [], →OCLC, stanza IV, page 5:
      Childe Harold bask'd him in the noon-tide sun, / Disporting there like any other fly; / Nor deem'd before his little day was done / One blast might chill him into misery.
    • 1838, Martin Farquhar Tupper, “Of Rest”, in Proverbial Philosophy: A Book of Thoughts and Arguments, Originally Treated, London: Joseph Rickerby, [], →OCLC, stanza 1, page 57:
      In the silent watches of the night, calm night that breedeth thoughts, / When the task-weary mind disporteth in the careless play-hours of sleep, / I dreamed; [...]
    • 1848 November – 1850 December, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter 3, in The History of Pendennis. [], volumes (please specify |volume=I or II), London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1849–1850, →OCLC:
      What generous, ardent, imaginative soul has not a secret pleasure-place in which it disports?
    • 1855, Frederick Lawrence, “Mont Orgueil Castle and William Prynne”, in [Anna Maria Hall], editor, Sharpe’s London Magazine of Entertainment and Instruction, for General Reading, volume VI (New Series), London: Published for the proprietor, by Virtue, Hall, and Virtue, [], →OCLC, page 160:
      [B]eautiful bays, where the transparent waves leap one after another on the sand, leaving behind them wreaths of foam, or playfully clasp the pointed rocks, like beautiful sea-nymphs disporting themselves in the joyous sunlight; [...]
    • 1861, Henry Thomas Buckle, “An Examination of the Scotch Intellect during the Eighteenth Century”, in History of Civilization in England, volume II, London: Parker, Son, and Bourn, [], →OCLC, page 410:
      [T]he political activity which produced the rebellion against the Stuarts, saved the Scotch mind from stagnating, [...] When the contest was ended, and peace was restored, the faculties which, for three generations, had been exercised in resisting the executive authority, sought other employment, and found another field in which they could disport themselves. Hence it was, that the boldness which, in the seventeenth century, was practical, became, in the eighteenth century, speculative, and produced a literature, which attempted to unsettle former opinions, and to disturb the ancient landmarks of the human mind.
    • 1870, Walt Whitman, “Passage to India”, in Leaves of Grass [], Philadelphia, Pa.: David McKay, publisher, [], published 1892, →OCLC, stanza 9, page 322:
      O soul, voyagest thou indeed on voyages like those? / Disportest thou on waters such as those?
    • 1905, William Somerset Maugham, chapter XXXVIII, in The Land of the Blessed Virgin: Sketches and Impressions in Andalusia, London: William Heinemann, →OCLC, page 215:
      It was there [Cadiz, Spain] that on Sunday I had seen the populace disport itself, and it was full of life then, gay and insouciant.
    • 1915, L[ucy] M[aud] Montgomery, Anne of the Island, New York, N.Y.: A[lbert] L[evi] Burt Company, →OCLC:
      “Here’s one I wrote. My heroine is disporting herself at a ball ‘glittering from head to foot with large diamonds of the first water.’
    • 1922 April 16, Margaret O'Leary, “More Ado About the Flapper”, in The New York Times[1], →ISSN:
      Concern—and consternation—about the flapper are general. She disports herself flagrantly in the public eye, and there is no keeping her out of grown-up company or conversation.




disport (plural disports)

  1. (countable, archaic) Anything which diverts one from serious matters; a game, a pastime, a sport.
    • 1643, William Prynne, “Proving 1st. that the Parliaments Present Necessary Defensive Warre, is Iust and Lawfull both in Point of Law and Conscience, and No Treason nor Rebellion”, in The Soveraigne Povver of Parliaments and Kingdomes: Divided into Fovre Parts. Together with an Appendix: [], printed at London: For Michael Sparke Senior, →OCLC, page 14:
      It hath beene very frequent with the Kings of England, France, and other Princes, for triall of their man hood, to runne at Iouſts, and fight at Barriers, not onely with forraigners, but with their owne valianteſt Lords and Knights, of which there are various Examples. In theſe Martiall diſports, by the very Law of Armes, theſe Subjects have not onely defended themſelves againſt their kings aſſaults and blowes; but retorted lance for lance, ſtroke for ſtroke, and ſometimes unhorſed, diſarmed, and wounded their Kings, []
  2. (uncountable, archaic) Amusement, entertainment, recreation, relaxation.
    • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur Book XX, Chapter iii, leaf 400v:
      And whether they were a bedde or at other maner of disportes me lyst not herof make no mencyon for loue that tyme was not as is now adayes.
      "And whether they were abed or at other manner of disports, me list not hereof make no mention, for love that time was not as is now-a-days."
  3. (countable, obsolete) The way one carries oneself; bearing, carriage, deportment.
  4. (countable, obsolete) Bearing, elevation, orientation.
    • 1662, Thomas Salusbury, Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World (Dialogue Two)
      ... shooting a bullet ... out of a Culverin towards the East, and afterwards another, with the same charge, and at the same elevation or disport towards the West.
  5. (uncountable, obsolete) Fun, gaiety, joy, merriment, mirth.



  1. ^ disporten, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 15 February 2019.
  2. ^ disport, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1896; disport”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ disport, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 15 February 2019.
  4. ^ disport, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1896.