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[uh-myooz] /əˈmyuz/
verb (used with object), amused, amusing.
to hold the attention of (someone) pleasantly; entertain or divert in an enjoyable or cheerful manner:
She amused the guests with witty conversation.
to cause mirth, laughter, or the like, in:
The comedian amused the audience with a steady stream of jokes.
to cause (time, leisure, etc.) to pass agreeably.
Archaic. to keep in expectation by flattery, pretenses, etc.
  1. to engross; absorb.
  2. to puzzle; distract.
Origin of amuse
1470-80; < Middle French amuser to divert, amuse; see a-5, muse
Related forms
amusable, adjective
amuser, noun
unamusable, adjective
unamusably, adverb
Can be confused
amuse, bemuse (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. please, charm, cheer. Amuse, divert, entertain mean to occupy the attention with something pleasant. That which amuses is usually playful or humorous and pleases the fancy. Divert implies turning the attention from serious thoughts or pursuits to something light, amusing, or lively. That which entertains usually does so because of a plan or program that engages and holds the attention by being pleasing and sometimes instructive. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for amuse
  • But two detectives who amuse themselves with such loose strings thought something of the yellowing file.
  • If you want to amuse me, though, you'll put a nickname in your signature.
  • Used as a sort of parlor game to amuse or as a metaphor for the existence of different points of view, okay.
  • It will delight youngsters and even amuse adults who haven't gone completely sour.
  • True or not, the on-screen follies mostly amuse and generally divert.
  • They use this technique to escape predators and sometimes, apparently, simply to amuse themselves.
  • The winter now set in, and the brothers suggested that they should amuse themselves by playing games.
  • Neutrino doesn't follow football, but he likes to amuse himself sometimes by trying to concoct a play that can't be stopped.
  • Painstakingly wrought amuse-bouches have received lukewarm receptions.
  • Do not serve an amuse-bouche without detailing the ingredients.
British Dictionary definitions for amuse


verb (transitive)
to keep pleasantly occupied; entertain; divert
to cause to laugh or smile
Word Origin
C15: from Old French amuser to cause to be idle, from muser to muse1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for amuse

late 15c., "to divert the attention, beguile, delude," from Middle French amuser "divert, cause to muse," from a "at, to" (but here probably a causal prefix) + muser "ponder, stare fixedly" (see muse (v.)). Sense of "divert from serious business, tickle the fancy of" is recorded from 1630s, but through 18c. the primary meaning was "deceive, cheat" by first occupying the attention. Bemuse retains more of the original meaning. Related: Amused; amusing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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