The Oxford English (OED) Dictionary online defines recreation as being: ‘refreshment or comfort produced by something affecting the senses or body’, (first used in 1390); ‘comfort or consolation of the mind; that which comforts or consoles’ (first used in 1410); ‘the action of recreating (oneself or another), or fact of being recreated, by some pleasant occupation, pastime or amusement (first used in 1400) and ‘a pleasurable exercise or employment (first used in 1430).
Entertainment did not appear until almost 200 years later in 1610 where it was originally defined as being ‘the action of upholding or maintaining’, in 1612 this became ‘the action of occupying (a person's) attention agreeably’. Despite the fact that these definitions have changed through the centuries, the dates of usage clearly demonstrate that recreation as a recognised concept certainly came before entertainment, at least in the English language.
Entertainment is something that has the primary purpose of engaging or captivating an audience through sensory stimulation and / or emotion. It is participated in by people in their own time to satisfy a number of needs that are recreational in nature, for example adult entertainment may satisfy sexual urges, edutainment may satisfy the desire to learn, and music may satisfy the need to relax. All forms of entertainment may satisfy the need to alleviate boredom as a ‘time-filler’ which is why the industry as a whole is growing exponentially as the world in which we live becomes increasingley industrialised, with those seeking recreation having increased amounts of both time and disposable income.