What Is Entertaiment?


The clown at a kid’s birthday party, the Broadway show, your friends fighting over the last potato chip—all forms of entertainment. Derived from the Old French entretenir, meaning “to hold together or support,” the word soon came to mean something that amuses or distracts. It can take the form of theatrical entertainment, such as shows; visual entertainment, such as art or photography; and audio entertainment, such as music.

Entertainment evolves as it is adapted to fit a variety of situations, from a private occasion to a global audience. But it remains rooted in amusement. What’s funny or entertaining for one person may be distressing or upsetting to another, which is why the word is sometimes used in a negative context. It can even be used ironically, as in TEN News—Transformational Entertainment News.