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

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
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The possibility that states might decriminalize the general use of peyote is raising concerns among Indigenous practitioners, who employ the cactus in traditional settings like the Native American Church. Arlyssa D. Becenti, The Arizona Republic, 17 Sep. 2022 Rain gauges that dispense with tipping buckets and employ sonic sensors that measure the speed, frequency and size of raindrops. Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune, 16 Sep. 2022 But Tiktok’s BeReal-esque feature also prompts more discussion on how TikTok will employ safety features for their most popular users. Ct Jones, Rolling Stone, 15 Sep. 2022 The city will also employ any and all methods of communication available, including text alerts, the Democratic mayor and his staff said. Emily Opilo, Baltimore Sun, 15 Sep. 2022 Ohio has many such small and midsize factories, which cumulatively employ tens of thousands. E. Tammy Kim, The New Yorker, 15 Sep. 2022 The authors visit a smart city operations facility in the wealthy urban center of Hangzhou to give an inside look at how police actually employ surveillance data. Steven Feldstein, The Courier-Journal, 14 Sep. 2022 The fund, which is seeking to raise another $20 million, will invest in 15-20 startups that are either led by Ukrainian founders, or have relocated from Ukraine, or employ Ukrainian refugees. Eric Sylvers, WSJ, 13 Sep. 2022 This Big Three with Love could not play as much as the Markkanen Big Three, but there are times where the Cavs can employ that combination. Terry Pluto, cleveland, 11 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Residents blamed right-wing paramilitary forces in the employ of mining interests. Patrick J. Mcdonnellforeign Correspondent, Los Angeles Times, 25 Sep. 2022 The series takes place predominantly in and around the walls of the castle known as the Red Keep, with all of the significant figures either being members of the royal Targaryen family or people in their employ. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 19 Aug. 2022 Disney representatives said that the case was settled to avoid costly litigation and that the resort’s three hotels employ experts, including entomologists, to avoid bedbug problems. Hugo Martínstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 2 May 2022 Pierre Cardin is briefly in the employ of Schiaparelli. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, 1 July 2022 In a letter sent Friday to Democratic City Councilman Eric Costello, the chairman of the council’s Ways and Means Committee that conducts the budget hearing process, Mosby counted 144 prosecutors in her employ. Alex Mann, Baltimore Sun, 6 June 2022 Waldman doesn't deny making the statements, but Depp's side argued that even though Waldman was under his employ, Depp was not involved or aware of these remarks. Benjamin Vanhoose, PEOPLE.com, 1 June 2022 Some private enterprises may be attracted to scrutinizing employees like an intelligence agency might keep tabs on analysts and spies, although employ don’t have access to the same data sources. Sarah Scoles, New York Times, 17 May 2022 Burna Boy’s frequent employ of an a cappella or minimalist arrangement meant the eager attendees could often be heard singing clearly, their voices as sweet as Burna’s smile. Mankaprr Conteh, Rolling Stone, 29 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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, 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"

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Last Updated

27 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Employ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/employ. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for employ


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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