from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To hold the attention of (someone) with something amusing or diverting. synonym: amuse.
  • intransitive verb To extend hospitality toward.
  • intransitive verb To consider; contemplate.
  • intransitive verb To hold in mind; harbor.
  • intransitive verb Archaic To continue with; maintain.
  • intransitive verb Obsolete To employ; hire.
  • intransitive verb Obsolete To give admittance to; receive.
  • intransitive verb To show hospitality to guests.
  • intransitive verb To provide entertainment.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Entertainment.
  • To maintain; keep up; hold.
  • To maintain physically; provide for; support; hence, to take into service.
  • To provide comfort or gratification for; care for by hospitality, attentions, or diversions; gratify or amuse; hence, to receive and provide for, as a guest, freely or for pay; furnish with accommodation, refreshment, or diversion: as, to entertain one's friends at dinner, or with music and conversation; to be entertained at an inn or at the theater.
  • To provide for agreeably, as the passage of time; while away; divert.
  • To take in; receive; give admittance to; admit.
  • To take into the mind; take into consideration; consider with reference to decision or action; give heed to; harbor: as, to entertain a proposal.
  • To hold in the mind; maintain; cherish: as, to entertain decided opinions; he entertains the belief that he is inspired.
  • To engage; give occupation to, as in a contest.
  • To treat; consider; regard.
  • Synonyms Divert, Beguile. See amuse.
  • To exercise hospitality; give entertainments; receive company: as, he entertains generously.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To be at the charges of; to take or keep in one's service; to maintain; to support; to harbor; to keep.
  • transitive verb To give hospitable reception and maintenance to; to receive at one's board, or into one's house; to receive as a guest.
  • transitive verb To engage the attention of agreeably; to amuse with that which makes the time pass pleasantly; to divert
  • transitive verb To give reception to; to receive, in general; to receive and take into consideration; to admit, treat, or make use of.
  • transitive verb obsolete To meet or encounter, as an enemy.
  • transitive verb To keep, hold, or maintain in the mind with favor; to keep in the mind; to harbor; to cherish.
  • transitive verb obsolete To lead on; to bring along; to introduce.
  • intransitive verb To receive, or provide entertainment for, guests.
  • noun obsolete Entertainment.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To amuse (someone); said especially of a professional entertainer.
  • verb transitive and intransitive To have someone over at one's home for a party or visit.
  • verb transitive To have a thought in mind.
  • noun obsolete Entertainment.

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

  • verb take into consideration, have in view
  • verb maintain (a theory, thoughts, or feelings)
  • verb provide entertainment for


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

[Middle English entertinen, to maintain, from Old French entretenir, from Medieval Latin intertenēre : Latin inter, among; see inter– + Latin tenēre, to hold; see ten- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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


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  • rather than its mundane meaning of "amuse", I like its subtleties: to entertain his presence, to entertain such an idea, &c. — etymologically "to hold mutually"

    January 18, 2007