What Is Entertaiment?


A clown at a birthday party, the Broadway show you saw last week, your friends fighting over the last potato chip—each of these is an example of entertainment. Derived from the Old French word entretenir, which means to hold together or support, it came to be associated with hospitality, and grew in meaning to encompass anything that diverts or amuses. Hence we talk about theatrical entertainment as shows, visual entertainment as movies and art, and audio entertainment as music.

Today, entertaiment has the ability to span media and be customized for any audience—a single person choosing from a seemingly infinite array of pre-recorded entertainment, a family gathering with an appropriate menu, or a stadium rock concert. Yet its fundamental appeal remains the same: it offers a moment of escape or distraction that can bring pleasure and enjoyment to its viewers or listeners.