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 Problems could arise if Republicans who have expressed support take issue in the weeks to come with the legislative text or the process Democrats employ to push forward with the deal and the reconciliation package. Lauren Fox And Clare Foran, CNN, 12 July 2021 And then there are those like Miller who employ shovels and picks and, in his case, heavy machinery. Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Anchorage Daily News, 9 July 2021 And then there are those like Miller who employ shovels and picks and, in his case, heavy machinery. Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Washington Post, 8 July 2021 While initially the hope was to open by Labor Day weekend, Fadul said a more realistic goal is mid-September for Bistro on the Falls, which will employ 20 employees. John Benson, cleveland, 7 July 2021 As a a member, he’ll be required to assemble a collection of at least 25 authentic looks and will employ a studio with 20 full-time staff members. Danielle Wright, Essence, 6 July 2021 Since 2004, the company has worked to support and employ marginalized individuals—including those previously incarcerated and recovering from addiction. Lindsey Tramuta, Fortune, 5 July 2021 Not to mention that Marvel might employ other actors to play beloved Avengers in the future. Chris Smith, BGR, 2 July 2021 Most seminaries in the U.S. are operated by dioceses, which employ the graduates. John Wisely, Detroit Free Press, 1 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The industries hardest hit – travel, education, hospitality and retail – employ (and therefore laid off) mostly women. Ric Edelman, Forbes, 8 Apr. 2021 The Houthis employ child soldiers and indiscriminately lay landmines. CBS News, 10 May 2021 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

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

17 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

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

More from Merriam-Webster on employ

Nglish: Translation of employ for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of employ for Arabic Speakers


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