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

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

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In July, first-round draft pick Patrick Queen responded glumly to a tweet about the NFL and NFL Players Association’s decision to penalize those who engage in potentially risky behavior, including attending nightclubs and bars. Jonas Shaffer, baltimoresun.com, "The Ravens kick off this NFL season with Super Bowl dreams. Can they handle a pandemic, too?," 11 Sep. 2020 Ramsay said that many people who engage in do-it-yourself measures end up using or installing generators in their homes or garages or close to windows and doors, that allows the odorless and colorless, potentially deadly, gas to amass. Shwanika Narayan, SFChronicle.com, "Power shut-offs, fires and heat fuel spike in Bay Area generator sales," 8 Sep. 2020 Some said the process discriminates against local younger artists, particularly those of color, who engage in hip-hop, street-type of art. Steve Lord, chicagotribune.com, "Aurora approves special sign district for mural," 26 Aug. 2020 This allows officers who engage in excessive violence to avoid the consequences of their actions and remain on the job. Paul F. Clark, The Conversation, "Why police unions are not part of the American labor movement," 25 Aug. 2020 Other influencers, including those who don't regularly engage in conspiracies, also promoted the theory. Kimi Robinson, The Arizona Republic, "Why is Wayfair accused of trafficking children? 7 things to know about the conspiracy theory," 18 Aug. 2020 The proposal explicitly would not provide liability protections for those who engage in willful misconduct or gross negligence. Jason Hanna, CNN, "Vacation spots, salons and youth sports leagues want people to sign coronavirus waivers. Here's what to know," 15 Aug. 2020 The government says the security law targets only a small number of people who engage in secessionist and subversive behavior. Zen Soo, Star Tribune, "As Hong Kongers seek to emigrate, some simply can't leave," 11 Aug. 2020 The outsider writers whose work generates a more encompassing empathy are the ones who engage with the full humanity and complexity of their characters. Sarah Menkedick, Longreads, "American Dirt: A Bridge to Nowhere," 10 Aug. 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.

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

Time Traveler for engage

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about engage

Statistics for engage

Last Updated

27 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

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

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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!