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Borrowed 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
    • (Can we date this quote by De Quincey and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      I am not here going to entertain so large a theme as the philosophy of Locke.
    • (Can we date this quote by Hawthorne and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      A rumour gained ground, — and, however absurd, was entertained by some very sensible people.
  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.
    • (Can we date this quote by Jeremy Taylor and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      to baptize all nations, and entertain them into the services and institutions of the holy Jesus

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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


entertain (uncountable)

  1. (obsolete) Entertainment; pleasure.
  2. (obsolete) Reception of a guest; welcome.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, IV.8:
      But neede, that answers not to all requests, / Bad them not looke for better entertayne […].

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