em·​ploy | \ im-ˈplȯi How to pronounce employ (audio) , em- \
employed; employing; employs

Definition of employ

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to make use of (someone or something inactive) employ a pen for sketching
b : to use (something, such as time) advantageously a job that employed her skills
c(1) : to use or engage the services of
(2) : to provide with a job that pays wages or a salary
2 : to devote to or direct toward a particular activity or person employed all her energies to help the poor


em·​ploy | \ im-ˈplȯi How to pronounce employ (audio) , ˈim-ˌplȯi, ˈem-ˌplȯi How to pronounce employ (audio) \

Definition of employ (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : use, purpose
2 : the state of being employed in the city's employ

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Synonyms & Antonyms for employ

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for employ


use, employ, utilize mean to put into service especially to attain an end. use implies availing oneself of something as a means or instrument to an end. willing to use any means to achieve her ends employ suggests the use of a person or thing that is available but idle, inactive, or disengaged. looking for better ways to employ their skills utilize may suggest the discovery of a new, profitable, or practical use for something. an old wooden bucket utilized as a planter

Examples of employ in a Sentence

Verb The company is accused of employing questionable methods to obtain the contract. You should find better ways to employ your time. I had to employ a lawyer to review the contract. It's a small company, employing a staff of only 20. Noun while you're under our employ, you can't do outside work for our competitors
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The push for podcast unions is just one expression of what feels like a larger shift in the relationship between creative labor and the organizations that employ them. Nicholas Quah, Vulture, "2021 in Podcasting: Now What?," 12 Jan. 2021 Across Hall County are more than a dozen meat processing plants that employ thousands of workers, many of them Latino and Black. Sanya Mansoor, Time, "Georgia Polling Site Closures Reducing Access to Early Voting Among Working Class and Minority Voters, Civil Rights Groups Say," 26 Dec. 2020 Council members Nury Martinez, Mitch O’Farrell, Paul Koretz and Curren Price introduced a motion Tuesday that would mandate a $5 hourly wage increase for workers at grocery store chains that employ 300 or more workers nationwide. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, "SoCal cities consider renewed ‘hero pay’ for grocery store workers amid COVID-19 surge," 16 Dec. 2020 Covid-19 is not just an intriguing interpretative challenge but a disease that has killed friends and family members and put the institutions that employ curators and other staff on life support. Andrew Dickson, The New Yorker, "How Will We Tell the Story of the Coronavirus?," 9 Dec. 2020 And in July, Musk picked Austin as the site for Tesla’s largest U.S. assembly plant — a $1.1 billion investment that’ll employ at least 5,000 workers. Dom Difurio, Dallas News, "Elon Musk’s relocation follows 687,000 other Californians who’ve moved to Texas in last decade," 9 Dec. 2020 The development authority is offering incentive payments of a maximum of $50,000 for businesses to relocate or add offices in the city that employ at least 10 high-wage workers. Carly Ortiz-lytle, Washington Examiner, "Goldman Sachs weighing a move from New York: Report," 7 Dec. 2020 Yet the pandemic is accelerating the demise of physical stores -- and those are the ones that employ the most workers. Matt Egan, CNN, "Here we go again: The US could start losing jobs very soon," 4 Dec. 2020 PortMiami is the world’s busiest cruise port; South Florida is also home to headquarter offices of the cruise industry’s largest companies, which collectively employ more than 10,000 workers. Anchorage Daily News, "The CDC upgrades cruise ship COVID-19 infection risk to highest level possible," 23 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The way that Lopez and others of her ilk employ empty, anti-racist dogma is more like magic than religion. Grant Addison, Washington Examiner, "Frisco's folly," 11 Feb. 2021 Ganguly's music mixes classical traditions of Europe with those of India and Bangladesh, while Ganu's designs employ found materials. Rob Hubbard, Star Tribune, "Minnesota creatives respond to a big idea: Let's make opera small," 4 Feb. 2021 About 98% of businesses in the U.S. employ fewer than 100 people. Greg Ott, Fortune, "Why the PPP still falls short for small businesses," 31 Dec. 2020 Most foreign publications operating in China employ expatriates and Chinese nationals. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Hong Kong’s Freedom Fighters," 11 Dec. 2020 Carmontelle was a creative polymath in the employ of the young, fun-lovin’ Duke of Chartres. Washington Post, "An 18th-century Parisian garden of delight can teach us much about what not to do today," 9 Dec. 2020 Only six teams have run the ball more than the Browns, and three of those six employ Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson or Cam Newton at quarterback. Dan Labbe, cleveland, "Browns offensive line vs. Eagles pass rush and 3 other things to watch on Sunday," 21 Nov. 2020 Again, the word ‘employ’ was used in the context of ownership. Michael Isaac Stein, NOLA.com, "New Orleans police use facial recognition software, despite official assurances to the contrary," 13 Nov. 2020 Many locations will also use employ disposable pens, one-time-use pencils, cleanable place-mats for privacy booths and other safety measures, while poll workers will offer masks and hand sanitizer. Eliza Fawcett, courant.com, "With record voter registration on eve of Election Day, Connecticut officials rally voters," 2 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'employ.' 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 employ


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1679, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for employ


Middle English emploien, from Anglo-French empleier, emploier, emplier to entangle, apply, make use of, from Latin implicare to enfold, involve, from in- + plicare to fold — more at ply

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Time Traveler for employ

Time Traveler

The first known use of employ was in the 15th century

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Statistics for employ

Last Updated

23 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Employ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/employ. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for employ



English Language Learners Definition of employ

: to use (something) for a particular purpose or to do something
: to use or direct (something, such as your time or effort) in order to achieve a particular goal
: to use or get the services of (someone) to do a particular job


em·​ploy | \ im-ˈplȯi How to pronounce employ (audio) \
employed; employing

Kids Definition of employ

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to give a job to : use the services of The company employs over 500 workers.
2 : to make use of They employ traditional methods of farming.



Kids Definition of employ (Entry 2 of 2)

: the state of being hired for a job by The gentleman is in the employ of a large bank.

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