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 By employing solar panels, large windows and high-quality insulation, the office cuts down on necessary heating and lighting costs — which could mean big savings in the long run, said Guidon Sustainability Engineer Hannah Fleck. London Gibson, Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis building gets highest 'green' building certification possible," 29 Nov. 2019 The explanation Mr Souriau and Dr Geberzahn propose is that male thrush nightingales employ the winter months as a period of experimentation and rehearsal for the summer. The Economist, "Birdsong Male nightingales spend the winter practising," 28 Nov. 2019 The site says the company employs more than 175 full-time employees and 50 contractors. USA TODAY, "Chemical plant explosion in East Texas blows windows from homes miles away," 28 Nov. 2019 Hillmer dreams up something delicious, and then shows his plans to Valerie Machinist, director of nutrition services, who employs a computerized recipe analysis program to break down the nutrient content. BostonGlobe.com, "This Mass. nonprofit makes Thanksgiving feasts for people with dietary restrictions - The Boston Globe," 27 Nov. 2019 Federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into whether drug makers intentionally allowed opioids to flood communities, employing laws normally used to go after drug dealers, according to The Wall Street Journal. Ed Silverman, STAT, "Pharmalittle: Feds probe drug makers for flooding communities with opioids; States proceeding with importation," 27 Nov. 2019 The site says the company employs more than 175 full-time employees and 50 contractors. CBS News, "An explosion and fires at 2 U.S. chemical plants prompt emergency orders," 27 Nov. 2019 In 2017, over 276,000 skilled immigrants worked under OPT, more than were employed under the H-1B program, which is also being curbed. Maeve Higgins, Time, ""It's Heartbreaking for Us." Syrian Students' Struggle to Study in the U.S.," 27 Nov. 2019 In the short-term, the land deal makes the Nimitz Group landlord to over 110 businesses employing about 3,000 people, including the modular housing manufacturer Factory OS. Janelle Bitker, SFChronicle.com, "‘Economic engine’: Vallejo’s Mare Island megaproject envisions thousands of new homes," 26 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 This is where powerhouse midfielder Michael Essien comes into it - get him into your employ, get him on the plane to Vitesse Arnhem, and it'll be settled by the end of the day. SI.com, "6 Other Chelsea Old Boys the Blues Should Definitely Hire for Off-Field Roles," 28 June 2019 Now in the employ of the Brooklyn Nets, Durant could miss the entire upcoming season. Gary Peterson, The Mercury News, "NBA M*A*S*H: Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant check in from rehab," 19 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

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Employ.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/employs. Accessed 5 December 2019.

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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

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