en·​gage | \ in-ˈgāj How to pronounce engage (audio) , en- \
engaged; engaging

Definition of engage

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to offer (something, such as one's life or word) as backing to a cause or aim : to expose to risk for the attainment or support of some end engaged his all in the king's cause
2a obsolete : to entangle or entrap in or as if in a snare or bog
b : to attract and hold by influence or power
c : to interlock with : mesh also : to cause (mechanical parts) to mesh engage the clutch
3 : to bind (someone, such as oneself) to do something especially : to bind by a pledge to marry
4a : to provide occupation for : involve engage him in a new project
b : to arrange to obtain the use or services of : hire engage a lawyer
5a : to hold the attention of : engross her work engages her completely
b : to induce to participate engaged the shy boy in conversation
6a : to enter into contest or battle with engage the enemy
b : to bring together or interlock (weapons)
7 : to deal with especially at length

intransitive verb

1a : to pledge oneself : promise
b : to make a guarantee he engages for the honesty of his brother
2a : to begin and carry on an enterprise or activity used with inengaged in trade for many years
b : to do or take part in something used with inengage in healthy activitiesengage in bad conduct
c : to give attention to something : deal failing to engage with the problem
3 : to enter into conflict or battle
4 : to come together and interlock the gears engaged


en·​ga·​gé | \ ˌäⁿ-ˌgä-ˈzhā How to pronounce engagé (audio) \

Definition of engagé (Entry 2 of 2)

: committed to or supportive of a cause

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Did You Know?

Engagé is the past participle of the French verb engager, meaning "to engage." The French have used "engagé" since the 19th century to describe socially or politically active people. The term became particularly fashionable in the wake of World War II, when French writers, artists, and intellectuals felt it was increasingly important for them to take a stand on political or social issues and represent their attitudes in their art. By 1946, English speakers had adopted the word for their own politically relevant writing or art, and within a short time "engagé" was being used generally for any passionate commitment to a cause.

Examples of engage in a Sentence

Verb He was engaged as a tutor. He sure can engage an audience. The story engaged my interest. The troops prepared to engage the enemy. The troops prepared to engage with the enemy.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb If its orbit spirals any closer, the two will engage in a death dance that will lead to the planet's end. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "A year on this exoplanet only takes 18 hours. And it might be doomed," 20 Feb. 2020 This could limit their ability to find mates and engage in important social contact with other whales. Katherine Kornei, Science | AAAS, "Minke whales are struggling to communicate over the din of ocean noise," 18 Feb. 2020 The city engaged a city-planning firm to do a study, which is pretty much completed. John Benson, cleveland, "Parma Heights City Council passes six-month Pearl Road development moratorium," 17 Feb. 2020 The Justice Department argues that Judge Koh's decision, which ordered Qualcomm to decouple patent licenses from chip sales and stop engaging in other anticompetitive conduct, is a threat to US national security. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Appeals court seems poised to reverse landmark Qualcomm antitrust ruling," 14 Feb. 2020 Bloomberg engages with cities through several programs, awards and grants. Lucien Bruggeman, ABC News, "Mike Bloomberg's philanthropy pays dividends with emerging political network," 14 Feb. 2020 By 1980, the brothers, always competitive with one another, were engaged in open warfare over the fate of the company. BostonGlobe.com, "Frederick Koch, Who Spurned Family Business, Dies at 86," 13 Feb. 2020 Robert De Niro engaged in animated conversation with Harvey Keitel and Judd Apatow, while Margaret Qualley in a classic black satin jacket and skirt combo could be seen sneaking up to Phoebe Tonkin and Laura Love before going in for a hug. Max Maeckler, Vogue, "Inside Chanel’s Tweed and Celeb-Filled Pre-Oscar Party," 9 Feb. 2020 Not long after becoming engaged, the couple decided to have a destination wedding somewhere romantic and unconventional. Jasmine Grant, Essence, "Bridal Bliss: Shakirah And Matthew Left Us Speechless With Their Rustic Italian Wedding," 29 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'engage.' 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 engage


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1946, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for engage


Middle English, from Anglo-French engager, from en- + gage pledge, gage


French, past participle of engager to engage

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Time Traveler for engage

Time Traveler

The first known use of engage was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

24 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Engage.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/engage. Accessed 29 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for engage


How to pronounce engagé (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of engage

formal : to hire (someone) to perform a particular service : to pay for (help, services, etc.)
: to get and keep (someone's attention, interest, etc.)
: to start fighting against (an opponent)


en·​gage | \ in-ˈgāj How to pronounce engage (audio) \
engaged; engaging

Kids Definition of engage

1 : to catch and keep fixed (as someone's attention) The story engaged my interest.
2 : to take part in or cause to take part in something He engages in many school activities.
3 : to enter into contest or battle with Soldiers engaged the enemy.
4 : to arrange for the services or use of : employ I suggest you engage a lawyer.
5 : mesh The gears engaged.

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More from Merriam-Webster on engage

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for engage

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with engage

Spanish Central: Translation of engage

Nglish: Translation of engage for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of engage for Arabic Speakers

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