en·gage | \in-ˈgāj, 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 in engaged in trade for many years

b : to do or take part in something used with in engage 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 \

Definition of engagé (Entry 2 of 2)

: committed to or supportive of a cause

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Synonyms & Antonyms for engage

Synonyms: Verb

assume, employ, hire, pay, place, recruit, retain, sign (up or on), take on

Antonyms: Verb

ax (or axe), can, discharge, dismiss, fire, sack

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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


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

The hashtag #SelenaIsFreeParty popped up shortly after news broke that ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber was engaged to on-again, off-again fling Hailey Baldwin. Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "Why Be Engaged When You Can Be An Ex?," 13 July 2018 Feeding times vary from day to day, a technique to keep them engaged. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Bearizona: Top things to do at drive-thru wildlife park in Williams," 12 July 2018 The Trump administration has argued that China engages in unfair trade practices with the U.S. that need to be countered, even at the cost of pain to the U.S. economy. Josh Zumbrun, WSJ, "Chinese Tariffs Hit Trump Counties Harder," 6 July 2018 In April, the Inquirer and Daily News reported that the museum and Temple were engaged in talks about a potential partnership. Stephan Salisbury, Philly.com, "Philadelphia History Museum is closing to the public as Temple walks away from proposed partnership," 27 June 2018 And then came the reports that Ariana and Pete were engaged. Hanna Lustig, Teen Vogue, "Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson's Relationship: A Timeline," 25 June 2018 The city also has denied claims that Furman was engaged in police brutality, noting he was investigated by Michigan State Police in one incident but cleared. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Lawsuit: Melvindale uses abusive cop to make money off towing scam," 21 June 2018 Justin posted a seriously romantic photo of the two engaging in some hot tub PDA, while Hailey was a bit more casual in her Instagram selection, and chose a photo of the pair presumably jetting off somewhere. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin Showed off Matching Diamond Watches," 14 July 2018 In a 485-page decision, Judge Kaplan rebuked Mr. Donziger for engaging in judicial bribery, coercion, witness tampering and hiring of an American consulting firm to ghostwrite an expert’s reports, among other offenses against legal ethics. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Steven Donziger Gets His Due," 13 July 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near engage







engaged tone

Phrases Related to engage

engage in

engage with

Statistics for engage

Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for engage

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

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More Definitions for engage


en·gage | \in-ˈgāj \
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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Comments on engage

What made you want to look up engage? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that holds something together

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