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

transitive verb

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


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em·​ploy im-ˈplȯi How to pronounce employ (audio)
ˈem-ˌplȯi How to pronounce employ (audio)
: the state of being employed
in the city's employ
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
Recent Examples on the Web
Before the cuts, Tesla employed over 140,000 workers globally. Andy Kalmowitz / Jalopnik, Quartz, 17 Apr. 2024 By 2012, their business had grown to employ about 50 people and renovate 15 houses a month. Jason Green, The Mercury News, 17 Apr. 2024 To handle heftier loads comfortably, the pack employs a close-to-body carry design. Kevin Brouillard, Travel + Leisure, 17 Apr. 2024 Then ‘the Generator’ employs an array of diffusion models and other image-generators to produce images and copy closely allied to that BookDNA. Molly Flatt, Fortune Europe, 17 Apr. 2024 One of the owners of Friends Masonry Construction, the Charlotte company that employed the three workers who died, said none of his workers were instructed to remain silent about the accident. Gavin Off, Charlotte Observer, 16 Apr. 2024 Wade had worked as a dancer on cruise ships and was employed on one at the time of the investigation. Nathan Diller, USA TODAY, 15 Apr. 2024 At its height, the mill on Sparrows Point employed 31,000 people. Sophie Hills, The Christian Science Monitor, 5 Apr. 2024 The legislation also would prevent facilities from hiring or continuing to employ people whose names are on Adult Protective Services’ abuse registry and increase dementia training requirements for workers at facilities licensed to serve residents who need the most help. Wyatt Buchanan, The Arizona Republic, 5 Apr. 2024
Here are the hours of operation: Monday through Thursday from 1 to 8:30 p.m. Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. How many people will the slide park employ? Bridget Fogarty, Journal Sentinel, 24 Jan. 2024 Any woman who does marry while under his employ must resign immediately. Sarah Murphy, Sacramento Bee, 1 Feb. 2024 After his uncle’s death, Copernicus relocated to the town of Frombork and continued in the church’s employ. Danuta Hamlin, Fox News, 18 Feb. 2024 But then the people in his employ told an NBA newsbreaker. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, 5 Jan. 2024 Neus Coronado, one of three full-time slicers García employs, can produce a tidy pinwheel of uniform, nearly paper-thin slices in just a few minutes. Bonnie Berkowitz, Washington Post, 19 Jan. 2024 First shown as a two-seat concept car at the Turin Motor Show in November of 1966, the sleek fastback GT was penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro, then under the employ of Carrozzeria Ghia. Robert Ross, Robb Report, 4 Dec. 2023 My Cup of Tea employs and supports women in need in the Orange Mound community in Memphis. Enjanae' Taylor, Southern Living, 7 Nov. 2023 One tactic Woods employs is executing very short hunts in the evening. Alex Robinson, Outdoor Life, 2 Nov. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'employ.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English emploien, emplien "to apply or devote (a thing to a purpose), apply (oneself) to a task, make use of, expend," borrowed from Anglo-French empleier, emploier, emplier "to entangle, fabricate, put to use, devote (oneself) to" (continental Middle French also "to make use of, apply, occupy [time], expend [money], use the services of [a person]"), going back to Latin implicāre "to fold about itself, entwine, entangle, involve, embroil" — more at implicate

Note: This verb does not appear in Middle English before the fifteenth century, and the predominance of the form with -oi-, retained in early Modern English, most likely reflects ongoing influence of continental French. — Latin implicāre gave rise to a verb meaning "to use, make use of" in Gallo-Romance (Old Occitan emplegar in addition to French empleier), Italian (impiegare) and Catalan (emplegar). Spanish emplear is an early borrowing from Old French. Compare imply.


borrowed from French emploi, going back to Middle French, "use, service," noun derivative of emploier "to put to use, employ entry 1"

First Known Use


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


1679, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

Dictionary Entries Near employ

Cite this Entry

“Employ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/employ. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
em·​ploy im-ˈplȯi How to pronounce employ (audio)
: to make use of : use
: to use or obtain the services of
employ a lawyer to draw up a will
: to provide with a job that pays wages or a salary
employ a staff of twenty
: to use or direct toward a particular goal
employ all of your energies to getting the job done


2 of 2 noun
: employment especially for wages or a salary
generous to people in their employ

More from Merriam-Webster on employ

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