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 Hellman said HomeGrownFun will employ about 360 seasonal workers, compared to nearly 2,000 for the 2019 fair. San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 June 2021 The factory is expected to open in 2024 and employ 1,600 workers. AZCentral.com, 4 June 2021 Those are also the industries that tend to employ more workers at the lower end of the income spectrum. Sarah Hansen, Forbes, 21 May 2021 By year’s end, Seegrid, which is profitable, plans to employ 350 workers, up from 150 a year ago, said chief executive Jim Rock. Washington Post, 19 May 2021 By year’s end, Seegrid, which is profitable, plans to employ 350 workers, up from 150 a year ago, said chief executive Jim Rock. BostonGlobe.com, 19 May 2021 Most of the nation’s public health departments employ fewer than 50 workers; about a third have fewer than 10 employees. oregonlive, 8 May 2021 The stocks of major firms that employ gig workers, including Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, took a hit upon the news of Walsh's comments. Matthew Brown, USA TODAY, 30 Apr. 2021 Walsh argued companies that employ these workers should bear some of those costs. Michelle Cheng, Quartz, 29 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In 1657, for instance, 142 employees of the Dutch East India Company were released from their employ to settle; 156 French Huguenots settled in 1688, and from 1675 yearly slave imports often exceeded 100 individuals. Jaco Greeff, Quartz, 6 June 2021 What was once just a loose collection of sports blogs with a 12 man staff is now one of the fastest growing lifestyle brands on the internet with 240 men and women in its employ. Cecelia Townes, Forbes, 17 May 2021 Still Watching, Big Man, and the Her Worth series employ collage to construct countenance as experimental situation. Matthew Carey Salyer, Forbes, 4 May 2021 Innerspring mattresses employ coils or springs to provide support, and usually run slightly firmer than average. Anthony Marcusa, chicagotribune.com, 17 Apr. 2021 The Houthis employ child soldiers and indiscriminately lay landmines. CBS News, 10 May 2021 The Houthis employ child soldiers and indiscriminately lay landmines. Jon Gambrell, Star Tribune, 9 May 2021 Additionally, Lam Research, SEH America and Siltronic employ thousands near Portland manufacturing supplies and equipment for local chip manufacturers. oregonlive, 8 May 2021 His comments signaled a shift in policy and hurt stocks of companies such as Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc that employ gig labor. NBC News, 5 May 2021

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

11 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Employ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/employ. Accessed 13 Jun. 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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