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

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Other Words from apply

applier \ ə-​ˈplī(-​ə)r How to pronounce applier (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Long Beach has its own health department, which means the L.A. County order does not apply. Los Angeles Times, "L.A. County beaches will close Fourth of July weekend after coronavirus spike," 29 June 2020 Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson wrote on Friday that Anchorage’s new coronavirus masking mandate does not apply to state offices, the people who visit them, or employees in those offices. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska’s governor and attorney general say Anchorage’s mask mandate doesn’t apply to state offices. The city disagrees.," 29 June 2020 The offer will not apply to vehicles financed or leased through any other company or paid for in cash. Peter Valdes-dapena, CNN, "Ford will let you return your new car if you lose your job," 29 June 2020 Her order does not directly apply to the parents detained with their children. USA TODAY, "Judge: US must free migrant children from family detention," 27 June 2020 Her order does not directly apply to the parents detained with their children. Fox News, "Judge: US must free migrant children from family detention," 27 June 2020 Rebecca Osborne, the vector-borne diseases section chief at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, has some additional advice about using insect repellents: Don't apply too much repellent. Jordan Nutting, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Heading outside this summer? Here's what you need to know about bug repellents," 27 June 2020 The sick-leave order does not apply if the employee travels for work or at the employer's request, Cuomo said in a news release. al, "Cuomo: No sick leave benefits for New York employees who visit Alabama," 27 June 2020 Uresti’s office is rightly proud of — do not apply to business owners. Michael Taylor,, "Taylor: Property taxes a problem without a solution for business owners," 26 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for apply

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for apply

Last Updated

2 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Apply.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for apply


How to pronounce apply (audio)

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 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.
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on apply

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for apply

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with apply

Spanish Central: Translation of apply

Nglish: Translation of apply for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of apply for Arabic Speakers

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