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 deadline to apply for the Bruce Lerch Scholarship is June 5. Nate Weitzer,, 26 May 2022 Under Title 42, most migrants don’t even have the opportunity to apply for asylum. Rachel Monroe, The New Yorker, 25 May 2022 The group now faces a trial in September over alleged failure to apply for registration—or exemption from registration—within the time allowed of the now-defunct 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, an offense punishable by a fine of less than $1,300. Elaine Yu, WSJ, 24 May 2022 Companies must submit a 4,000-question exam in order to apply for certification, which also involves submitting evidence to back up their answers. Cristina Montemayor, SELF, 23 May 2022 During the event, potential candidates will have an opportunity to apply for job openings, meet and speak to hiring professionals and network with other career experts, according to the city. Wilborn Nobles, ajc, 23 May 2022 That created an opportunity to apply lessons learned when designing the new funding. Yeganeh Torbati And Tony Romm, Anchorage Daily News, 23 May 2022 That created an opportunity to apply lessons learned when designing the new funding. Tony Romm, Washington Post, 22 May 2022 Clients who are not able to afford the mental health care recommended to them also have the option to apply for a grant via Sweet Relief’s Music’s Mental Health Fund. Thania Garcia, Variety, 18 May 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

28 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Apply.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 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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