Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To occupy in an agreeable, pleasing, or entertaining fashion.
  • transitive v. To cause to laugh or smile by giving pleasure: I was not amused by his jokes.
  • transitive v. Archaic To delude or deceive.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To entertain or occupy in a pleasant manner; to stir with pleasing emotions.
  • v. To cause laughter, to be funny.
  • v. To keep in expectation; to beguile; to delude.
  • v. To divert attention, to distract, to bewilder.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To muse; to mediate.
  • transitive v. To occupy or engage the attention of; to lose in deep thought; to absorb; also, to distract; to bewilder.
  • transitive v. To entertain or occupy in a pleasant manner; to stir with pleasing or mirthful emotions; to divert.
  • transitive v. To keep in expectation; to beguile; to delude.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To cause to muse; absorb or engage in meditation; occupy or engage wholly; bewilder; puzzle.
  • To keep in expectation, as by flattery, plausible pretenses, and the like; delude; keep in play.
  • To fix the attention of agreeably; engage the fancy of; cause to feel cheerful or merry; entertain; divert: as, to amuse an audience with anecdotes or tricks, or children with toys.
  • Synonyms Amuse, Divert, Entertain, Beguile, occupy, please, enliven. Amuse may imply merely the prevention of the tedium of idleness or emptiness of mind: as, I can amuse myself by looking out at the window; or it may suggest a stronger interest: as, I was greatly amused by their tricks. Divert is to turn the attention aside, and (in the use considered here) to something light or mirthful. Entertain is to engage and sustain the attention by something of a pleasing and perhaps instructive character, as conversation; hence the general name entertainment for lectures, exhibitions, etc., designed to interest in this way. “Whatever amuses serves to kill time, to lull the faculties and banish reflection; it may be solitary, sedentary, and lifeless: whatever diverts causes mirth and provokes laughter; it will be active, lively, and tumultuous: whatever entertains acts on the senses and awakens the understanding; it must be rational and is mostly social.” Crabb. Beguile is, figuratively, to cheat one out of weariness, of dull time, etc. The word is as often thus applied to the thing as to the person: as, to beguile a weary hour; to beguile one of his cares.
  • To muse; meditate.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. make (somebody) laugh
  • v. occupy in an agreeable, entertaining or pleasant fashion

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French amuser, to stupefy : a-, to (from Latin ad-; see ad-) + muser, to stare stupidly; see muse.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English amusen ("to mutter, be astonished, gaze meditatively on"), from Middle French amuser ("to amuse, divert, babble"), from Old French amuser ("to stupefy, waste time, be lost in thought"), from a- + muser ("to stare stupidly at, gape, wander, waste time, loiter, think carefully about, attend to"), of uncertain and obscure origin. Cognate with Occitan musa ("idle waiting"), Italian musare ("to gape idly about"). Possibly from Old French *mus ("snout") from Proto-Romance *mūsa (“snout”) (—compare Medieval Latin mūsum ("muzzle, snout")), from Proto-Germanic *mū- (“muzzle, snout”), from Proto-Indo-European *mū- (“lips, muzzle”). Compare North Frisian müs, mös ("mouth"), German Maul ("muzzle, snout"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • amuses meaning has gone from "to stupify" to "to entertain"

    September 8, 2009