verb ap·ply \ ə-ˈplī \
|Updated on: 14 Aug 2018

Definition of apply

applied; applying
1 a : 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.
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


play \-ˈplī(-ə)r\ noun

Examples of apply in a Sentence

  1. For further information, apply to the address below.

  2. I applied in writing to several different companies.

  3. You must have a high school diploma for this job. High school dropouts need not apply.

  4. After applying a thin layer of paint to the wall and letting it dry, apply another coat.

  5. We applied the ointment to the cut.

  6. I washed my face and applied fresh makeup.

  7. Fertilizer was applied to the lawn every two weeks.

Recent Examples of apply from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of apply

Middle English applien, from Anglo-French aplier, from Latin applicare, from ad- + plicare to fold — more at ply

apply Synonyms

APPLY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of apply for English Language Learners

  • : 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

APPLY Defined for Kids


verb ap·ply \ ə-ˈplī \

Definition of apply for Students

applied; applying
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.

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb ap·ply \ ə-ˈplī \

medical Definition of apply

applied; applying
: to lay or spread on
  • apply antiseptic to a cut

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excessive admiration or flattery

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