A theatrical production, a rock concert, a dinner party, your friends fighting over the last potato chip—all are entertaiment. The word derives from the Old French entretenir, meaning “to hold together, support,” and in this context was used to refer to hospitality—keeping guests happy. It later shifted to mean amusement, and from there came the sense of entertaining. The suffix -ment, from Latin –mentum (“the result or product of something”), is common with verb stems like amazement, betterment, and merriment.

Article by Lisa M. Schwartz, a staff writer for the New York Times. Originally published July 30, 2011.

Image by Jeremy M. Berger, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0.

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