em·ploy | \im-ˈplȯi, 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, ˈim-ˌplȯi, ˈem-ˌplȯi \

Definition of employ (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : use, purpose

b : occupation, job

2 : the state of being employed in the city's employ

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Other Words from employ


employer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for employ

Synonyms: Verb

assume, engage, hire, pay, place, recruit, retain, sign (up or on), take on

Synonyms: Noun

employment, engagement, hire

Antonyms: Verb

ax (or axe), can, discharge, dismiss, fire, sack

Antonyms: Noun

joblessness, nonemployment, unemployment

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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


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.


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

At the time, Van Gundy was still employed by Detroit. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Chauncey Billups thinks the Pistons can contend in 'wide open' East," 13 July 2018 The unit employed about 200 people at the end of the Barack Obama administration. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, "The Finance 202: Senate rebuke of Trump tariffs won't actually change anything," 12 July 2018 Dooley estimated there are about 900 workers now employed at the Colt factory complex, helping to boost activity at the once desolate area. Kenneth R. Gosselin, courant.com, "Renovations Begin In Last Major Structure At Hartford's Colt Complex," 11 July 2018 That would be a blow to Beijing’s effort to attract foreign capital and keep people employed at a time of gathering economic gloom. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "After Trump’s New Tariff Threat, China Seeks Strategy for Retaliation," 11 July 2018 That would be a blow to Beijing’s effort to attract foreign capital and keep people employed at a time of gathering economic gloom. Lingling Wei, WSJ, "‘Shocked’ by Latest U.S. Tariff Plan, Beijing Seeks Retaliatory Action," 11 July 2018 ProPublica and Frontline reported early Thursday morning that Miselis had remained employed at Northrop even after his superiors had been informed of his actions. Aaron Gregg, latimes.com, "Northrop Grumman employee seen on video at violent white supremacist rally no longer employed at company," 7 July 2018 She was known for her strong work ethic, retiring at age 76 having been employed at various companies as a bookkeeper. Sun-Sentinel.com, "Deaths in South Florida: 7/1," 1 July 2018 Among them are more than 400 employed at three Marriott hotels — the Westin, Hotel Republic and Marriott La Jolla — with contracts that have either expired or will expire this year. Lori Weisberg, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Marriott hotel workers will hit the streets to demand better pay, working conditions," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The cruise industry gets knocked around for the long hours and often hectic conditions of the people in its employ. Michael Ian Black, New York Times, "Cruises Are So Uncool They Are Cool," 3 July 2018 Beyond the broadcasters’ exit poll team of Curtice and Fisher, several other leading U.K. academics also worked for hedge funds—either directly or for the pollsters in their employ. Cam Simpson, Bloomberg.com, "Brexit’s Big Short: How Pollsters Helped Hedge Funds Beat the Crash," 25 June 2018 Kawhi Leonard awoke Friday still under the employ of the Spurs, despite rumblings leading to Thursday’s draft the team might be compelled to deal its disillusioned superstar. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "Spurs aim to hang onto Leonard — for now," 22 June 2018 Her whole employ was saying and doing outrageous things to get attention. Lisa Gutierrez, kansascity, ""A teaching moment.' Valerie Jarrett and others respond to 'Roseanne' controversy," 29 May 2018 Among the people Moe and Polly Wiesen probably knew in those days were the Feinsteins, another prominent family in the garment industry, who had a domestic in their employ named Mary Ann Moroney. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer long wondered if he's related to JFK; at 72, he learned the truth," 12 May 2018 But, there are many stupider things written by even smarter people who continue to keep their employs. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "The Supremacy of the Internet Mob," 19 Apr. 2018 Co-founder Mary Ann McCready had watched during her employ at CBS Records in the 1980s as numerous acts racked up huge paychecks, saved little and kept overspending even after their commercial peak years ended. Tom Roland, Billboard, "Flood, Bumstead And the Country Artist's Conflict: Seeking Wealth While Singing About Poverty," 3 Apr. 2018 Trouble is, the therapist is under the employ of a hospital that has a vested interest in admitting patients for 72-hour holds and draining insurance money from them. Richard Lawson, HWD, "Claire Foy Gives a Star Turn in Harrowing Unsane," 23 Mar. 2018

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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Statistics for employ

Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for employ

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

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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 \
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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