American English

Definition of court noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable, uncountable] the place where legal trials take place and where crimes, etc. are judged the civil/criminal courts Her lawyer made a statement outside the court. She will appear in court tomorrow. They took their landlord to court for breaking the contract. The case took five years to come to court (= to be heard by the court). There wasn't enough evidence to bring the case to court (= start a trial). During the court hearing, the prosecutor said she would seek maximum prison sentences. He won the court case and was awarded damages. She can't pay her tax and is facing court action. The case was settled out of court (= a decision was reached without a trial). Topic CollocationsCriminal Justicebreaking the law break/violate/obey/uphold the law be investigated/arrested/tried for a crime/a robbery/fraud be arrested/indicted/convicted on felony charges/on charges of rape/fraud be arrested on suspicion of arson/robbery/shoplifting be accused of/be charged with murder/homicide/four counts of fraud face two charges of assault and battery admit your guilt/liability/responsibility (for something) deny the allegations/claims/charges confess to a crime be granted/be refused/be released on/skip/jump bailthe legal process stand/await/bring somebody to/come to/be on trial take somebody to/come to/settle something out of court face/avoid/escape prosecution seek/retain/have the right to/be denied access to legal counsel hold/conduct/attend/adjourn a hearing/trial sit on/influence/persuade/convince/advise a jury stand/appear/be brought before a judge plead guilty/not guilty to a crime be called to/take/put somebody on the stand/the witness stand call/subpoena/question/cross-examine a witness give/hear the evidence against/on behalf of somebody raise/withdraw/overrule an objection reach a unanimous/majority verdict return/deliver/record a verdict of guilty/not guilty convict/acquit the defendant of the crime secure a conviction/your acquittal lodge/file an appeal appeal (against)/challenge/uphold/overturn a conviction/verdictsentencing and punishment sentence somebody to 5 years in prison/2 years' probation carry/face/serve a seven-year/life sentence receive/be given the death penalty be sentenced to ten years (in prison/jail) carry/impose/pay a fine (of $3,000)/a penalty (of 14 years' imprisonment) be imprisoned/jailed for drug possession/fraud/murder do/serve time/ten years be sent to/put somebody in/be released from jail/prison be/put somebody/spend 13 years on death row be granted/be denied/violate (your) parole ⇨ more collocations at crime see also circuit court, courthouse, courtroom, family court GrammarschoolWhen a school is being referred to as an institution, you do not need to use the:When do the children finish school?When you are talking about a particular building, the is used:I’ll meet you outside the school.Prison, jail, court, and church work in the same way:Her husband spent three years in prison. She drove by the prison every day.
  2. 2the court [singular] the people in a court, especially those who make the decisions, such as the judge and jury Please tell the court what happened. The court heard yesterday how the man collapsed and died after being stabbed. see also contempt of court, high court, family court, juvenile court, Supreme Court
  3. for sports
  4. 3[countable] a place where games such as tennis are played a tennis/squash/badminton court He won after only 52 minutes on court.
  5. buildings
  6. 4[countable] = courtyard
  7. 5(abbreviation Ct.) [countable] used in the names of apartment buildings or of some short streets
  8. 6[countable] a large open section of a building, often with a glass roof the food court at the shopping mall
  9. kings/queens
  10. 7[countable, uncountable] the official place where kings and queens live the court of Queen Victoria He was presented to the queen at court.
  11. 8the court [singular] the king or queen, their family, and the people who work for them and/or give advice to them
  12. Which Word?court / court of law / courthouse All these words can be used to refer to a place where legal trials take place. Court and (formal)court of law usually refer to the actual room where cases are judged. Courtroom is also used for this. Courthouse is more often used to refer to the building:The prison is across the street from the courthouse.Idioms
    the ball is in your/somebody's court
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    it is your/someone's responsibility to take action next They've offered me the job, so the ball's in my court now.
    hold court (with somebody)
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    to entertain people by telling them interesting or funny things I met Greg holding court with some tourists in a café.
    pay court to somebody (old-fashioned)
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    to treat someone with great respect in order to gain favor with them
    throw something out of court
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    to say that something is completely wrong or not worth considering, especially in a trial The charges were thrown out of court.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: court