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 methane tax, designed by Sen. Thomas Carper (D., Del.), would apply to facilities that release more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases into the air a year. Katy Stech Ferek, WSJ, 5 Aug. 2022 Courtney Astolfi reports the new rule would also apply to independent police departments when those officers use deadly force within city limits. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 4 Aug. 2022 This would apply to domestic flights that are delayed by three or more hours, or international flights that are delayed by six or more hours. Ian Duncan, Washington Post, 4 Aug. 2022 This mound prohibition would apply to catchers as well. Steve Forbes, Forbes, 2 Aug. 2022 At issue is a 15% corporate minimum tax in the Inflation Reduction Act, which would apply to companies with over $1 billion in income in their financial statements, about 150 in total. Benjy Sarlin, NBC News, 2 Aug. 2022 This wouldn't apply to semi-automatic weapons sold before the bill's passage. Amy Nakamura, USA TODAY, 2 Aug. 2022 The proposal would not apply to most small projects. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Aug. 2022 Carney wrote in his Visa order that any point included in his analysis would not apply to MindGeek's motion to dismiss. Ashley Belanger, Ars Technica, 1 Aug. 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

8 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Apply.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 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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