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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Other Words from employ


employer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for employ

Synonyms: Verb

assume, engage, fee [chiefly Scottish], hire, lay on [chiefly British], 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

Kōkei, a key postwar artist, is known for his 20th century take on the Kabuki print, rendering historic leading actors and important stage works in ways that employ intense color and motion. Carolina A. Miranda, latimes.com, "Datebook: At the Getty, one of Gordon Parks’ most controversial photographic series," 11 July 2019 The firm’s Tactical Trading fund, a separate multistrategy fund that employs equity and quantitative strategies, gained 1% in June, bringing year-to-date returns to about 12%, said the person. Katia Porzecanski, chicagotribune.com, "Ken Griffin’s flagship Citadel funds made 13.6% in first half of 2019, source says," 11 July 2019 Once the vehicle mysteries end, the companies said 300,000 vehicles will be produced annually at the MTMUS plant in Huntsville that will employ 4,000 people. Paul Gattis | Pgattis@al.com, al.com, "Toyota announces major change at Huntsville MTMUS plant," 10 July 2019 Another order would target discriminatory practices in sectors like the low-wage service industry that disproportionately employ women of color. CBS News, "Elizabeth Warren proposes executive orders to address race and gender pay gap," 5 July 2019 To date, the number of games that employ such tricks via proprietary Nvidia tech (global illumination, ray tracing, deep-learning super-sampling) can be counted on your fingers. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Nvidia refreshes RTX line: “Super” GPUs add performance at same MSRP," 2 July 2019 Her pre-government experience, typical of so many Democrats in Congress, was far removed from any type of private-sector entity that employed less-skilled, lower-wage workers and operated with razor-thin profit margins. WSJ, "The $15 Minimum Wage and Restaurants," 28 June 2019 Among them: More than $100,000 of military surplus equipment went missing while Meeks was in office, and Meeks used public money to pay monthly fees for his deputies to attend a gym that employs his daughter and is co-owned by her husband. Connor Sheets, ProPublica, "The Sheriff Lost Reelection. Then the Spending Spree Began.," 28 June 2019 The widow of a truck driver who plunged off an I-94 overpass to avoid hitting cars involved in a fiery collision in Racine County has sued the company that employed a second big rig driver the suit says caused the crash. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Widow of truck driver files lawsuit over fiery I-94 truck crash in Racine County," 28 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

This was the conservative disposition at its best, in the employ of the Labour Party. R.c., The Economist, "How conservatives—on the left and on the right—can defeat the populists," 9 July 2019 Point is, the new owner has smart hockey people in his employ. Mark Faller, azcentral, "A to-do list for the Arizona Coyotes' new owner Alex Meruelo," 19 June 2019 However, a lack of financial resources forced him to seek the employ of the United States Navy. orlandosentinel.com, "Deaths in Central Florida: 6/6," 5 June 2019 With the player now under their employ, their chances of finally clearing that hurdle have increased significantly. SI.com, "Cristiano Ronaldo's Agent Jorge Mendes Says Juventus Will Be the Player's Last Club," 11 July 2018 Kika Tech’s Keka Keyboard app was also found to have employ similar tactics to claim referral credits. Dami Lee, The Verge, "Google Play-promoted Android apps are using scammy ad practices, report says," 26 Nov. 2018 The duo visit the musty apartment of a reclusive language tutor, the elegant suite of a physicist in the employ of the U.S. government, and the shadowy ghetto lair of a brutal young hoodlum. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "Mysteries: Tales of Three Blood-Soaked Cities," 30 Nov. 2018 Those investigators can come from within the employ of MLB or hired outside investigators. Ryan Divish, The Seattle Times, "Major League Baseball will investigate claims of racism against the Mariners," 13 Nov. 2018 What’s more, many public figures who may be potential targets of attacks have mail-screening areas in their employ, staffed with experts who know how to identify suspicious packages. Alex Ward, Vox, "2 possible reasons the pipe bombs didn’t explode," 26 Oct. 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

15 Jul 2019

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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 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with employ

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


food or victuals

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