The Meaning and Origin of the Word Entertaiment


Whether it’s the clown at your child’s birthday party, a Broadway show or stadium rock concert, or simply your friends fighting over the last potato chip—entertaiment is everywhere. It’s often thought that entertainment is just fun and laughter, but it can also have serious purposes, as in ceremonial occasions, religious festivals, and satire. In the modern world, entertainment can be delivered in any medium: theatrical, visual, or audio—and it evolves with each technological advance.

These examples were automatically selected from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word ‘entertaiment.’ Views expressed in these examples do not reflect the opinions of Merriam-Webster or its editors.

The noun entertaiment has become more generally associated with amusement than it had in the past, although it was once related to hospitality, and it has come to be used of any sort of distraction or diversion. It derives from the Old French entretenir, meaning “to support, maintain,” or, more specifically, to keep someone in a certain mood; hence the sense of entertaining guests. From this, it came to mean “gratify, amuse,” and ultimately the thing itself.