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From Middle English entertenen, from Middle French entretenir, from Old French entretenir, from entre (among) + tenir (to hold), from Latin inter + teneō (hold, keep). For the noun, compare French entretien.



entertain (third-person singular simple present entertains, present participle entertaining, simple past and past participle entertained)

  1. (transitive) To amuse (someone); to engage the attention of agreeably.
    to entertain friends with lively conversation
    The motivational speaker not only instructed but also entertained the audience.
  2. (transitive and intransitive) To have someone over at one's home for a party or visit.
    They enjoy entertaining a lot.
  3. (transitive) To receive and take into consideration; to have a thought in mind.
    The committee would like to entertain the idea of reducing the budget figures.
    to entertain a proposal
  4. (obsolete) To take or keep in one's service; to maintain; to support; to harbour; to keep.
  5. (obsolete) To meet or encounter, as an enemy.
  6. (obsolete) To lead on; to bring along; to introduce.
    • 1651–1653, Jer[emy] Taylor, ΕΝΙΑΥΤΟΣ [Eniautos]. A Course of Sermons for All the Sundays of the Year. [], 2nd edition, London: [] Richard Royston [], published 1655, →OCLC:
      to baptize all nations, and to entertain them into the services and institutions of the holy Jesus

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entertain (uncountable)

  1. (obsolete) Entertainment; pleasure.
  2. (obsolete) Reception of a guest; welcome.

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