ap·ply | \ə-ˈplī \
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 \-ˈplī(-ə)r \ noun

Synonyms for apply


address, bend, buckle, devote, give

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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

Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, Bysiewicz’ opponent in the Aug. 14 Democratic primary, is also applying for public financing. Daniela Altimari,, "Susan Bysiewicz Approved for Public Financing, Will Receive Grant of $406,275," 13 July 2018 The court had previously ruled that a five-year statute of limitations applied to civil monetary penalties the SEC has sought to collect. Samuel Rubenfeld, WSJ, "Judge Dismisses SEC Suit Against Former Och-Ziff Executives," 13 July 2018 At some point, the men tried applying the hand brakes to the rail cars, which destabilized the train and forced the conductors to make an emergency stop, Fox 8 reported. Scott Berson, charlotteobserver, "Train-hoppers call 911 clinging to locomotive: ‘It’s going really, really fast!’," 12 July 2018 But Dr Ozanyan and Dr Scully use a sophisticated version that can record the amount of pressure applied in different places as someone walks across it. The Economist, "The way people walk can be used for ID and health checks," 12 July 2018 The regulations adopted Thursday by the California Public Utilities Commission basically extend to PG&E and Edison the same rules the commission already applied to San Diego. David R. Baker,, "To prevent fires, California sets new rules for shutting off power lines," 12 July 2018 Tuesday’s deadline applied only to children under the age of 5. Elaine Ayala, San Antonio Express-News, "Unmarked vans, security fences: family reunification proceeds behind curtain of secrecy," 12 July 2018 Loon was part of Google X, the arm of the search company that fostered audacious projects applying emerging technologies to stubborn problems in novel ways. Alex Davies, WIRED, "Inside X, the Moonshot Factory Racing to Build the Next Google," 11 July 2018 Control can consist of applying either a horticultural oil or natural spinosad-containing insecticide. Tom Maccubbin,, "Caterpillar invasion isn't end for healthy tree," 14 July 2018

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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Phrases Related to apply

apply for college

apply oneself

Statistics for apply

Last Updated

25 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for apply

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

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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 \
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 \
applied; applying

Medical Definition of apply 

: to lay or spread on apply antiseptic to a cut

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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).


not any or not one

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