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 Gregory was poised to apply for reinstatement heading into training camp eight months ago, but sources said another slip in his aftercare program and a change in representation halted those plans. David Moore, Dallas News, "Sources say Randy Gregory will soon petition for NFL reinstatement — and the Cowboys are ready to welcome him back," 23 Mar. 2020 The discount needs to be applied during checkout, and the sale ends at tomorrow, March 24, 11:59 p.m. ET. Alicia Kortendick, oregonlive, "Nike sale: Get new running shoes and exercise clothes for socially distant workouts," 23 Mar. 2020 The first front are efforts to apply existing drugs to treat the disease–including a Regeneron rheumatoid arthritis drug that went into clinical trials against Covid-19 last week. David Meyer, Fortune, "Regeneron will start testing its Covid-19 treatment in June," 23 Mar. 2020 The bill went through several iterations before a final design was ready to be applied to Bruce’s face. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "This Bird's Got a Brand New Bill," 23 Mar. 2020 The final deadline to apply for an exception is March 24. Devi Shastri, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "As campuses shut down, parents and students navigate a sudden move out process," 21 Mar. 2020 The city will allow people to apply online for permits, certificates of occupancy and temporary certificates of occupancy. Jasper Scherer, Houston Chronicle, "Houston to move most permitting services online Monday," 20 Mar. 2020 Local organizations can begin applying for the grants starting today. Emilie Eaton,, "‘We’re in a new reality’: San Antonio fund-raising campaigns will support people, nonprofits impacted by coronavirus," 20 Mar. 2020 Kimsey encouraged every person who doesn’t have health insurance to apply for Medicaid. Tyler Arnold, Washington Examiner, "Virginia eliminates Medicaid copays, extends tax deadlines in response to coronavirus," 20 Mar. 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

26 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Apply.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Apr. 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

Comments on apply

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