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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The new rules will apply to contractors who hold building permits for residential tracts of five or more lots and multifamily housing projects with five or more units, or who are completing certain commercial renovation projects. San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 May 2022 Sweden has not yet made final its intention to apply, though a decision is expected soon. Brigid Kennedy, The Week, 13 May 2022 Finally, make sure to apply moisturizer afterward to calm and soothe your skin, and an aftershave if that’s your preference. The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 May 2022 Some serums direct the consumer to only apply at night, such as those made with retinol. April Franzino, Good Housekeeping, 13 May 2022 While the country's Parliament still has to weigh in, the announcement means Finland is all but certain to apply -- and gain admission -- though the process could take months to complete. Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 13 May 2022 The rules for good, quality interactions between a customer and a company apply to Gen-Z engagements: Be authentic. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 2 May 2022 The rules apply to valuable species that are harvested in the Northeast such as cod, haddock and flounder. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 15 Apr. 2022 These rules apply to England, Scotland and Wales and not to Northern Ireland, which has its own policies outlined here. Lilit Marcus, CNN, 12 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About apply

Time Traveler for apply

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near apply



apply for college

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Statistics for apply

Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Apply.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for apply


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.


transitive verb
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

More from Merriam-Webster on apply

Nglish: Translation of apply for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of apply for Arabic Speakers


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