en·​sure in-ˈshu̇r How to pronounce ensure (audio)
ensured; ensuring

transitive verb

: to make sure, certain, or safe : guarantee

Did you know?

Do you ensure or insure?

There is considerable confusion about whether ensure and insure are distinct words, variants of the same word, or some combination of the two. They are in fact different words, but with sufficient overlap in meaning and form as to create uncertainty as to which should be used when. We define ensure as “to make sure, certain, or safe” and one sense of insure, “to make certain especially by taking necessary measures and precautions,” is quite similar. But insure has the additional meaning “to provide or obtain insurance on or for,” which is not shared by ensure. Some usage guides recommend using insure in financial contexts (as in “she insured her book collection for a million dollars”) and ensure in the general sense “to make certain” (as in “she ensured that the book collection was packed well”).

Choose the Right Synonym for ensure

ensure, insure, assure, secure mean to make a thing or person sure.

ensure, insure, and assure are interchangeable in many contexts where they indicate the making certain or inevitable of an outcome, but ensure may imply a virtual guarantee

the government has ensured the safety of the refugees

, while insure sometimes stresses the taking of necessary measures beforehand

careful planning should insure the success of the party

, and assure distinctively implies the removal of doubt and suspense from a person's mind.

I assure you that no harm will be done

secure implies action taken to guard against attack or loss.

sent reinforcements to secure their position

Examples of ensure in a Sentence

A combination of … personal courage, dashing leadership from the front, willingness to share the toughest rigours suffered by the ordinary soldiers, and a liberal dose of sheer good fortune ensured his stature as a great general. Paul Cartledge, History Today, July 2004
Indeed, even though she's been off the mainstream radar for more than a decade, her passionate love for and commitment to rock & roll have ensured that she's managed to make a steady living. Tom Sinclair, Entertainment Weekly, 24 Nov. 2000
At 20, [Kobe] Bryant is already living the modern American dream, a $70 million man on the NBA's glamour team in the nation's starriest city. His acrobatic moves make him the envy of teenage boys and his good looks and megawatt smile a heartthrob for teenage girls, ensuring his status as one of the NBA's premier pitchmen … Allison Samuels et al., Newsweek, 31 May 1999
They took steps to ensure the safety of the passengers. regulations that ensure the wholesomeness of our food
Recent Examples on the Web Your support ensures a bright future for independent journalism. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 1 Dec. 2023 Amazon employs strict measures to ensure customers who simply don't want to pay for low-cost items don't take advantage of its keep-it policy. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, 1 Dec. 2023 Each week, there are spots for focus, priorities, follow-ups, appointments, habits, and gratitude to ensure your productivity is number one. Claire Rutter, Rolling Stone, 1 Dec. 2023 Stevens’ arguments were crucial in ensuring the passage of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, and historians acknowledge Stevens as the main architect of the 14th Amendment, which enshrined equal protections under the law. Tracy Schorn, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Dec. 2023 Extending grace in these instances ensures accountability and growth continue. Antoine Andrews, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 Operating in the grays of crime and middlemen, India would ensure deniability while still feeding strong signals to Mr. Modi’s information warfare network at home. Hari Kumar, New York Times, 30 Nov. 2023 Instead, emphasizing prevention, respecting the animal’s territory, and understanding their behavior ensures a safer coexistence. Craig Caudill, Field & Stream, 30 Nov. 2023 Jenna Ortega Puts a Wednesday-Worthy Twist on the Met Gala 2023 Theme For Lorenzo, the performance aspect is fundamental: ensuring that the collection functions at the level a professional athlete would demand has been one reason Fear of God Athletics has spent so long in gestation. Luke Leitch, Vogue, 30 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ensure.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French ensurer, alteration of assurer — more at assure

First Known Use

1660, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ensure was in 1660

Dictionary Entries Near ensure

Cite this Entry

“Ensure.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ensure. Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


en·​sure in-ˈshu̇(ə)r How to pronounce ensure (audio)
ensured; ensuring
: to make sure, certain, or safe : guarantee

More from Merriam-Webster on ensure

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