The clown at your child’s birthday party, a Broadway show, your friends fighting over the last potato chip—all of these are forms of entertainment. The word itself comes from the French entretenir meaning “hold together or support” (from the prefix inter-, combining with tenere, the Latin verb for “to hold,” from the PIE root *ten-, to stretch). It was associated with hospitality—to entertain guests was to keep them happy—and later it came to mean amusement. Today, it is a common suffix for theatrical shows, visual arts, and even music. But it is not without its critics, who point out that what appears entertaining to one person may be torture to another or a way of attaining insight or intellectual growth.
More from Merriam-Webster
A suffix inserted into the ends of verb stems to form nouns indicating the result or product of the action (amazement, betterment, merriment). It is derived from the Latin -mentum, the suffix that was attached to many verbs in the Middle Ages to form nouns expressing state of mind (sentiment, enlightenment, astonishment). It is also a frequent suffix for English verb stems beginning with er (as in commencement and enlightenment) and for some Old French verbs with a hard /t/ (as in adornment, enrichment, and betterment). Compare ententainment.