ap·​ply | \ ə-ˈplī How to pronounce apply (audio) \
applied; applying

Definition of apply

transitive verb

1a : to put to use especially for some practical purpose He applies pressure to get what he wants.
b : to bring into action apply the brakes
c : to lay or spread on apply varnish
d : to put into operation or effect apply a law
2 : to employ diligently or with close attention You should apply yourself to your work.

intransitive verb

1 : to have relevance or a valid connection This rule applies to freshmen only.
2 : to make an appeal or request especially in the form of a written application apply for a job

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Other Words from apply

applier \ ə-​ˈplī(-​ə)r How to pronounce apply (audio) \ noun

Examples of apply in a Sentence

For further information, apply to the address below. I applied in writing to several different companies. You must have a high school diploma for this job. High school dropouts need not apply. After applying a thin layer of paint to the wall and letting it dry, apply another coat. We applied the ointment to the cut. I washed my face and applied fresh makeup. Fertilizer was applied to the lawn every two weeks.
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Recent Examples on the Web In both cases, companies must apply to be evaluated. Janelle Bitker, San Francisco Chronicle, "Grocery shoppers will soon see a new label: upcycled food, an attempt to reduce food waste," 22 Apr. 2021 These caterpillars get to work very early in the season, so apply it as soon as leaves green out and do so in accordance with directions, which call for 24 hours of dry weather post application. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, "Spring is finally here, but try to stay off your lawn for a while," 22 Apr. 2021 The program will start with a cohort of 10 Connecticut school districts who must apply to participate in the program., "Rock star Van Zandt helping Connecticut students re-engage," 21 Apr. 2021 Separately from the health QR code, travelers must apply for a visa in a process that has been tightened in the pandemic. Washington Post, "China to recognize Western shots for its vaccine passports, as it seeks to reopen," 20 Apr. 2021 But the law must apply with equal force to police officers of every color and origin. Joey Jackson, CNN, "Mohamed Noor’s sentence raises uncomfortable questions about race," 20 Apr. 2021 Athletes who have already transferred once in their careers still must apply for waivers. Creg Stephenson |, al, "NCAA officially passes one-time transfer exception," 15 Apr. 2021 Entities wanting to drill or operate wells in Michigan must apply for permits and post conformance bonds with the Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division of EGLE, the release said. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "AG Nessel: Ex-Michigan official embezzled $850K from state gas, oil funds," 14 Apr. 2021 In Indiana, voters must apply to vote-by-mail before each election and must have one of 11 excuses to be eligible. Elizabeth Depompei, The Indianapolis Star, "Indiana bill would require voter to provide ID when applying online for absentee ballot," 8 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apply.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of apply

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for apply

Middle English applien, from Anglo-French aplier, from Latin applicare, from ad- + plicare to fold — more at ply

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Time Traveler for apply

Time Traveler

The first known use of apply was in the 14th century

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Statistics for apply

Last Updated

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Apply.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for apply



English Language Learners Definition of apply

: to ask formally for something (such as a job, admission to a school, a loan, etc.) usually in writing
: to put or spread (something) on a surface, a part of the body, etc.
: to cause (force, pressure, etc.) to have an effect or to be felt


ap·​ply | \ ə-ˈplī How to pronounce apply (audio) \
applied; applying

Kids Definition of apply

1 : to request especially in writing apply for a job
2 : to lay or spread on apply a coat of paint
3 : to place in contact apply heat
4 : to have relation or a connection This law applies to everyone.
5 : to put to use I applied my knowledge.
6 : to give full attention I applied myself to my work.
ap·​ply | \ ə-ˈplī How to pronounce apply (audio) \
applied; applying

Medical Definition of apply

: to lay or spread on apply antiseptic to a cut

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More from Merriam-Webster on apply

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for apply

Nglish: Translation of apply for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of apply for Arabic Speakers

Comments on apply

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