To wine and dine (somebody) is defined on OALD as:

to go to restaurants, etc. and enjoy good food and drink; to entertain somebody by buying them good food and drink.

What does entertain mean stated in the above definition of wine and dine? Does it mean as defined on OALD:

1 to invite people to eat or drink with you as your guests, especially in your home, or

2 to interest and amuse somebody in order to please them?

2 Answers 2


"Entertain" with "wine and dine" is used in the first sense - inviting people to eat and drink with you as guests. "Wining and dining" is (usually) used in the restaurant sense (but could also be done at home).

Wining and dining is often used in the context of business people entertaining potential clients. "Wining and dining (somebody)" usually implies a little more enticement and extravagance than just "entertaining (somebody)".

I might say: "I am entertaining guests tonight." - meaning I am inviting guests to eat with me at home.

"We are wining and dining the Company X representatives tonight." - meaning we are taking the Company X representatives out for a meal (probably somewhere nice on our company credit card).

The second sense of "entertain", to interest and amuse in order to please, typically does not involve inviting someone for food and drink:

"My father entertained the audience with his song." - The audience may be eating and drinking at the same time, but "entertain" means my father intentionally pleased the audience.

We can, of course, be entertained by food and drink:

"The kids were entertained by the giraffe-shaped pancakes." The kids were amused by the shape of the pancakes.


Elenore Roosevelt and Maria Callas both entertained ambassadors. But Maria Callas entertained them when they were watching her sing at the opera, Elenore Roosevelt entertained them by hosting social events which they attended.

So the word means two different things, depending on the context. That's why there are two different definitions.

You can also just say that Elenore Roosevelt entertained frequently. Since it doesn't say she entertained anyone in particular, you assume that the first meaning, that of hosting a social event, is meant. If you say "Bob entertained Kate", it's more likely that you mean he amused her, not that he hosted a party, but if you said "Bob entertained the prince of Monaco", you probably meant that he threw a formal event that the prince attended. You'd need context to be sure.

So for what it's worth, I'm going to disagree a bit with your definition 1, I don't think it's 100% correct. I'd say that the wealthy woman throwing a social event is "entertaining", but it's about her hosting a social function, the food and drink is incidental.

"Wining and Dining" is about wanting a favor from someone, or at least wanting to impress them, so you spend money showing them a good time. Keeping them amused is part of this, so I'd say the person 'entertaining' another person is primarily amusing them, not primarily hosting a social function, even though they might be doing that too.

  • Good point about the "social" part being more important than the "food and drink" part. Commented Jan 23, 2014 at 12:39

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