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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Mario Tama/Getty Images The United States has a 140-year-old law, the Posse Comitatus Act, that generally prevents the military from engaging as law enforcement on American soil. Tara Golshan, Vox, "What Trump’s “lethal force” authorization means at the border," 27 Nov. 2018 The couple, who has been living in the Palace’s Nottingham Cottage since getting engaged, will settle into their new estate in early 2019 in anticipation of their first child. Tess Garcia, Teen Vogue, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to Move Out of Kensington Palace in 2019," 24 Nov. 2018 Accordingly, when engaging in SIGINT collection, the Agency should conduct targeted SIGINT collection activities rather than bulk SIGINT collection activities when practicable. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "The Snowden Legacy, part one: What’s changed, really?," 21 Nov. 2018 If Russian law enforcement agencies engage in abusive practices, then the country pays with its reputation, and this is a stark reminder of it. Angela Charlton, The Seattle Times, "Interpol’s flaws exposed in US-Russia fight over presidency," 21 Nov. 2018 The happy couple met late last year and were formally engaged earlier this summer in a traditional ceremony. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Princess Ayako of Japan Gives Up Her Royal Title in Wedding to Commoner Kei Moriya," 29 Oct. 2018 By working with people who wouldn’t normally engage with Design Week Mexico, Basica and Cappello expanded the cultural program’s reach. Diana Budds, Curbed, "4 lessons Mexican designers can teach the world," 19 Oct. 2018 The Army is preparing for the day when a swarm of drones might converge on its soldiers, who'll need an air defense system that can rapidly engage multiple targets in a short amount of time. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Army’s First Laser Weapons Will Kill Aircraft and Drones," 17 Oct. 2018 Even the most basic products are expected to be engaging. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "This Millennial Paint Brand is Bringing Sexy Back To Home Design," 31 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about engage

Listen to Our Podcast about engage

Dictionary Entries near engage







engaged tone

Statistics for engage

Last Updated

1 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for engage

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on engage

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with engage

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for engage

Spanish Central: Translation of engage

Nglish: Translation of engage for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of engage for Arabic Speakers

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).


living or existing for a long time

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!