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verb en·gage \in-ˈgāj, en-\

Simple Definition of engage

  • : to hire (someone) to perform a particular service : to pay for (help, services, etc.)

  • : to get and keep (someone's attention, interest, etc.)

  • : to start fighting against (an opponent) ( formal )

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of engage



  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to offer (as one's word) as security for a debt or cause

  3. 2 a obsolete :  to entangle or entrap in or as if in a snare or bog b :  to attract and hold by influence or power c :  to interlock with :  mesh; also :  to cause (mechanical parts) to mesh <engage the clutch>

  4. 3 :  to bind (as oneself) to do something; especially :  to bind by a pledge to marry

  5. 4 a :  to provide occupation for :  involve <engage him in a new project> b :  to arrange to obtain the use or services of :  hire <engage a lawyer>

  6. 5 a :  to hold the attention of :  engross <her work engages her completely> b :  to induce to participate <engaged the shy boy in conversation>

  7. 6 a :  to enter into contest or battle with <engage the enemy> b :  to bring together or interlock (weapons)

  8. 7 :  to deal with especially at length

  9. intransitive verb
  10. 1 a :  to pledge oneself :  promise b :  to make a guarantee <he engages for the honesty of his brother>

  11. 2 a :  to begin and carry on an enterprise or activity —used with in <engaged in trade for many years> b :  to do or take part in something —used with in <engage in healthy activities> <engage in bad conduct> c :  to give attention to something :  deal <failing to engage with the problem>

  12. 3 :  to enter into conflict or battle

  13. 4 :  to come together and interlock <the gears engaged>

Examples of engage in a sentence

  1. He was engaged as a tutor.

  2. He sure can engage an audience.

  3. The story engaged my interest.

  4. The troops prepared to engage the enemy.

  5. The troops prepared to engage with the enemy.

Origin and Etymology of engage

Middle English, from Anglo-French engager, from en- + gage pledge, gage

First Known Use: 15th century


adjective en·ga·gé \ˌäⁿ-ˌgä-ˈzhā\

Definition of engagé

  1. :  committed to or supportive of a cause

Did You Know?

Engagé is the past participle of the French verb engager, meaning "to engage." The French have used "engagé" since the 19th century to describe socially or politically active people. The term became particularly fashionable in the wake of World War II, when French writers, artists, and intellectuals felt it was increasingly important for them to take a stand on political or social issues and represent their attitudes in their art. By 1946, English speakers had adopted the word for their own politically relevant writing or art, and within a short time "engagé" was being used generally for any passionate commitment to a cause.

Origin and Etymology of engagé

French, past participle of engager to engage

First Known Use: 1946

Rhymes with engagé

Adige, A-OK, alleyway, All Fools' Day, All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day, all the way, anyway, appliqué, Arbor Day, arrivé, atelier, attaché, back away, ballonet, bang away, Bastille Day, Beaujolais, beta ray, beurre manié, BHA, blow away, botonée, Boxing Day, breakaway, break away, Bristol Bay, bustier, by the way, cabaret, cableway, Camagüey, canapé, cap-a-pie, Cape Cod Bay, caraway, carriageway, cassoulet, castaway, cathode ray, champlevé, chansonnier, chardonnay, Charolais, chevalier, china clay, cloisonné, cog railway, colorway, Condorcet, consommé, coryphée, cosmic ray, croupier, crudités, cutaway, day-to-day, debauchee, déclassé, dégagé, degree-day, delta ray, démodé, devotee, disarray, disobey, distingué, divorcé, divorcée, DNA, dollar day, double play, draw away, dress-down day, eagle ray, eightfold way, émigré, entranceway, entremets, entryway, espalier, everyday, exposé, expressway, fadeaway, fallaway, fall away, faraday, Faraday, faraway, fiancé, fiancée, fill away, fire away, flageolet, flyaway, foldaway, gal Friday, gamma ray, garde-manger, Georgian Bay, getaway, girl Friday, giveaway, give away, gratiné, gratinée, Greenaway, Groundhog Day, guillemet, Harare, hell to pay, Hemingway, hereaway, hideaway, hit the hay, HLA, holiday, holy day, Hornaday, Hudson Bay, Hugh Capet, Humboldt Bay, in a way, inter se, interplay, intraday, IPA, IRA, Ise Bay, judgment day, keep-away, kyrie, Labor Day, lackaday, latter-day, layaway, lay away, lingerie, macramé, Mandalay, manta ray, Massenet, matinee, medal play, meet halfway, MIA, Milky Way, Monterrey, Mother's Day, motorway, muscadet, mystery play, negligee, New Year's Day, New York Bay, Nicolet, night and day, Nottaway, off Broadway, Ojibwa, on the way, out of play, overlay, overplay, overstay, overweigh, Paraguay, passageway, pass away, passion play, pepper spray, Petare, photoplay, pikake, pis aller, play-by-play, plug-and-play, popinjay, potter's clay, pourparler, pousse-café, power play, present-day, protégé, protégée, pull away, put away, Put-in-Bay, Rabelais, rack railway, rainy-day, rambouillet, ratiné, recamier, recherché, reconvey, repartee, repoussé, résumé, retroussé, ricochet, right away, right-of-way, rockaway, roentgen ray, rondelet, roundelay, RNA, runaway, run away, Saguenay, salt away, San Jose, Santa Fe, São Tomé, Saturday, satyr play, semplice, Seventh-Day, severance pay, shadow play, sleepaway, sobriquet, sock away, sommelier, square away, steerageway, standaway, stowaway, straightaway, street railway, Table Bay, taboret, tarsier, taxiway, tearaway, tear away, teleplay, Tenebrae, thataway, throwaway, throw away, Thunder Bay, triple play, turn away, Udine, underlay, underpay, underplay, underway, Uruguay, velouté, Venite, vérité, vertebra, virelay, walkaway, Wang Ching-wei, waterway, wellaway, Whitsunday, workaday, working day, Yenisey, Zuider Zee

ENGAGE Defined for Kids


verb en·gage \in-ˈgāj\

Definition of engage for Students



  1. 1 :  to catch and keep fixed (as someone's attention) <The story engaged my interest.>

  2. 2 :  to take part in or cause to take part in something <He engages in many school activities.>

  3. 3 :  to enter into contest or battle with <Soldiers engaged the enemy.>

  4. 4 :  to arrange for the services or use of :  employ <I suggest you engage a lawyer.>

  5. 5 :  mesh <The gears engaged.>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up engage? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to proceed clumsily or ineffectually

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