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)

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 During a Chicago teachers strike in 2019, the union called on city leaders to employ librarians at every school. Perry Stein, Washington Post, "D.C. school librarians want the district to keep them employed when budgets get tight," 20 Feb. 2020 Healey's office began investigating after a minor employed at a Wendy's in Worcester complained that teenagers were working too late into the night and too many hours per day. CBS News, "Wendy's fined for violating child labor laws," 19 Feb. 2020 This woman is named Merissa, is from Virginia Beach, was previously employed at Guess, and has requested her face be blurred. Lia Beck, refinery29.com, "The Bachelor Recap Season 24, Episode 8: Hometowns, Baby, Let’s Go?," 17 Feb. 2020 By the numbers, the Blue Origin plant covers 400,000 square feet in Cummings Research Park, will employ 400 workers at peak production and represents an investment of $200 million. Lee Roop | Lroop@al.com, al, "Blue Origin opens giant new rocket engine plant in Huntsville," 17 Feb. 2020 More than 8,200 Detroit youth were employed at 548 work sites last year. USA TODAY, "Cold case cards, firework record, monkey treatment: News from around our 50 states," 11 Feb. 2020 The last factory in the area, in the nearby town of Réhon, employed over 4,000 people at its peak before closing in 1987. Noemie Bisserbe, WSJ, "France Says Au Revoir to the Cafe," 7 Feb. 2020 At present, about 485,000 coal miners are employed in India. Mayank Aggarwal, Quartz India, "India needs nearly 30 times more solar power to phase out coal jobs," 6 Feb. 2020 Charlotte Sullivan was employed at a liberal arts college but hadn’t been working at the school long enough to qualify for its parental leave policy; her husband worked at a grocery store with no leave. Fortune, "Democrats want a paid family leave law—but not Trump’s," 6 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Cubs took significant heat for keeping Russell in their employ – and for the occasionally tone deaf internal reactions to the case. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "What five new MLB free agents can tell us about the offseason," 4 Dec. 2019 Elon Musk may not want lidar scanners anywhere near his cars, but at least somebody in his employ believes that lasers can help Tesla cars see the world around them. Wired, "Tesla Has Found a Use for Lasers—Cleaning Glass," 3 Dec. 2019 Thank you for bringing me such reliable and worthwhile news stories in The Times every day and for having journalists like McNamara and all the others in your employ. Los Angeles Times, "Calendar feedback: Intro to Ronan Farrow," 21 Oct. 2019 Goodell essentially forced Jerry Richardson to sell the Panthers for abusing the women in his employ. Charles P. Pierce, Sports Illustrated, "Robert Kraft, Roger Goodell and the NFL’s Discipline Double Standard," 16 Mar. 2019 McDonald's employs 2 million people at 38,000 restaurants worldwide, and its needs change quickly based on turnover and seasonal demands. CBS News, "McDonald's job seekers can now "apply" through Alexa and Google Voice," 25 Sep. 2019 Although the Patriots employ James White as their pass-catching back, any offense that is as efficient as the Patriots will provide plenty of chances for their early-down back to produce and score. Kevin Scott, SI.com, "Fantasy Football 2019: Running Back Position Primer," 6 Aug. 2019 Heritage noted that while the U.S. steel industry is struggling, the industries that rely on steel employ millions of Americans. Erica Martinson, Anchorage Daily News, "Sullivan worried a Trump trade war would be bad for Alaska," 8 Mar. 2018 The Johnson Publishing Company archives will present scholars with new opportunities to explore the creative processes of the Ebony and Jet editorial staffs, as well as the crafts of the photographers in their employ. Syreeta Mcfadden, The Atlantic, "Why Ebony Magazine’s Archives Were Saved," 31 July 2019

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

25 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Employ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/employ. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for employ


How to pronounce employ (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on employ

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for employ

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with employ

Spanish Central: Translation of employ

Nglish: Translation of employ for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of employ for Arabic Speakers

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