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 Overall, a working environment that is rich with team meetings and award recognitions is one where workers are mentally pushed to apply themselves while finding ways to uplift their motivation for the next task. Lisa Caprelli, Forbes, 29 June 2022 Lead study author Fritz Obermeyer had come to the Broad Institute from Uber AI, where researchers had developed a programming language and a software framework that uses machine learning to model probabilities and apply them to large datasets. Sara Reardon, Scientific American, 28 June 2022 Create a cleaning solution of warm water and few drops of dish soap and apply it to the surface. Nafeesah Allen, Better Homes & Gardens, 23 June 2022 And certainly lower courts will look to the Court’s test and use that test and apply it to many gun laws. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 23 June 2022 These medicated shampoos can be drying to your hair, and may lead to hair breakage, so try to apply them only to your scalp; not the full length of your hair. ELLE, 11 June 2022 Some producers hew closely to the strict model, while most others apply it in part. Ellen Bhang,, 7 June 2022 This month certain challenges will ask you to step up to the plate and apply yourself and your past experiences to the present moment. Meghan Rose, Glamour, 1 June 2022 Shamoon says to wear sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher; apply it 20-30 minutes before an activity begins, and reapply later, especially if the children are in the water at the beach or the pool. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, 27 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

3 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

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