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

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 Qualifying projects generally must remove between 250 and 1,500 square feet of turf in the front yard, though some exceptions apply. Pomerado News, "Water agencies increase incentives to replace turf," 13 July 2018 In the shale play, big data is capturing and applying information in real time. Houston Chronicle, "Competition for top talent keeps pay scale high in oil industry," 13 July 2018 At a meeting in February, Pat Morrison, the union’s representative on the OSHA rule-writing committee, advocated applying the new emergency responder rules to all states. Mike Hendricks, kansascity, "Firefighters protect us. Who protects them?," 13 July 2018 For example, 39% of those surveyed believed that less than half of Wisconsin high school seniors applying to UW-Madison are admitted. Karen Herzog, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Retro UW-Madison delivery van hits road with myth-busting facts, Babcock ice cream," 13 July 2018 For light rail projects, cities meeting half those metrics may apply, the guidelines said. WSJ, "Cash Flows: Beijing Opens the Taps With Rail Projects and More Lending," 13 July 2018 The offer does not include accessories and a few other rules apply. Sheila Vilvens,, "Build-A-Bear Workshop Pay Your Age Day: Long lines, large crowds," 12 July 2018 Instead of applying fearsome heat and pressure, reverse fuel cells make ammonia by deftly wrangling ions and electrons. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "Ammonia—a renewable fuel made from sun, air, and water—could power the globe without carbon," 12 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

11 Sep 2018

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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).


alleviating pain or harshness

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