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 applier (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 Installers are typically the ones who apply sealers and color enhancers after the stone is installed. Jeanne Huber, Washington Post, "Restoring the color to slate that’s lost its blackness," 16 Sep. 2019 Prosecutors have not said which colleges her daughter applied to with the fraudulent SAT score. Collin Binkley, Anchorage Daily News, "Felicity Huffman gets 14 days in jail, fine, community service for role in college admissions scam," 13 Sep. 2019 Prosecutors have not said which colleges her daughter applied to with the fraudulent SAT score. Collin Binkley,, "Felicity Huffman gets 14 days in prison for her role in the college admissions bribery scandal: ‘I was stupid’," 13 Sep. 2019 Prosecutors have not said which colleges her daughter applied to with the fraudulent SAT score. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Felicity Huffman gets 14 days in prison in admissions scandal, possible sign of what’s to come for others charged," 13 Sep. 2019 Baltimore County officials say the federal lawsuit alleging employment discrimination against African Americans who applied to become police officers stems from an earlier investigation that began under the Obama administration. Wilborn P. Nobles Iii,, "New Justice Department lawsuit against Baltimore County police stems from Obama-era probe, county says," 12 Sep. 2019 Jim Kaminski, a member of the Strongsville Planning Commission, will challenge Ward 1 Councilman Matt Patten, and Spenser Vago, who applied unsuccessfully for a vacant council seat last year, will challenge Ward 2 Councilwoman Ann Roff. Bob Sandrick,, "Each of Strongsville’s four ward council members to face challengers Nov. 5; early voting starts Oct. 8," 10 Sep. 2019 Multiple colleges and universities also collect Social Security numbers from prospective students, but its system also keeps the numbers of students who apply and do not attend. Eve Rosen,, "Florida’s Auditor General focuses on student data protection," 10 Sep. 2019 Special Master Kenneth Feinberg determined that more than seven billion dollars was appropriate for the five thousand five hundred sixty people who applied as injured or dependents of the deceased. Tom Roston, Time, "The Untold Story of an Undocumented Immigrant Family Torn Apart by 9/11," 9 Sep. 2019

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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Statistics for apply

Last Updated

6 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for apply

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

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More Definitions for apply


How to pronounce apply (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with apply

Spanish Central: Translation of apply

Nglish: Translation of apply for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of apply for Arabic Speakers

Comments on apply

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


concealed or difficult to comprehend

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