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 Parnas claims to have worked with Giuliani for more than a year to persuade the government of Ukraine to open a number of investigations that Giuliani and Trump wanted, including one into a Ukrainian company that employed Hunter Biden. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "“Take Her Out”: Donald Trump’s Role in the Ukraine Scheme Is Caught on Tape," 24 Jan. 2020 Sherwin-Williams has decided to replace the union contractor that employs the janitors with a nonunion contractor. Olivera Perkins, cleveland, "SEIU janitors protest at Sherwin-Williams HQ against being replaced by lower-paid workers," 23 Jan. 2020 And companies that employ caretakers but don't contract with the state are not required to check it before hiring someone. Stephanie Innes, azcentral, "Audit needed of Arizona's Adult Protective Services, expert panel says," 22 Jan. 2020 Democrats say the president used the assistance as leverage to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation targeting a company that employed former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "Nadler calls White House's impeachment rebuttal "errant nonsense"," 19 Jan. 2020 The commission also sanctioned both the temp agency that employed Paul and the veterans agency, each of which have paid fines. Chris Sikich, Indianapolis Star, "Former lawmaker won't face lobbying charges. Marion County Prosecutor won't detail why.," 13 Jan. 2020 The merger created the country’s third-largest landline phone company that employed 47,500 people and served 15 million phone and 5 million broadband customers in 37 states. The Denver Post, "Colorado’s biggest stories of the past decade," 31 Dec. 2019 The company that employed the driver, SDS Global Logistics, was one of the small independent firms that Amazon had chosen to deliver packages to customers. James Bandler, ProPublica, "Inside Documents Show How Amazon Chose Speed Over Safety in Building Its Delivery Network," 28 Dec. 2019 There’s no evidence that the FDA was fundamentally changed by a single decision, as organizations that employ 17,000 people rarely are. Damian Garde, STAT, "3 trends in biotech to watch in 2020," 26 Dec. 2019 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

28 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Employ.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/employed. Accessed 28 January 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

Comments on employ

What made you want to look up employ? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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