es·​tab·​lish | \i-ˈsta-blish \
established; establishing; establishes

Definition of establish 

transitive verb

1 : to institute (something, such as a law) permanently by enactment or agreement

2 obsolete : settle sense 7

3a : to make firm or stable

b : to introduce and cause to grow and multiply establish grass on pasturelands

4a : to bring into existence : found established a republic

b : bring about, effect established friendly relations

5a : to put on a firm basis : set up establish his son in business

b : to put into a favorable position

c : to gain full recognition or acceptance of the role established her as a star

6 : to make (a church) a national or state institution

7 : to put beyond doubt : prove established my innocence

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Other Words from establish

establishable \ i-​ˈsta-​bli-​shə-​bəl \ adjective
establisher \ i-​ˈsta-​bli-​shər \ noun

Examples of establish in a Sentence

The film established her as a star. She established a reputation as a hard worker. The word is now established as part of the English language. The company has established itself as a leader in the industry. As a young doctor he worked hard to establish himself in the community. They want to establish their children in the family business. She established a system of tracking expenses more accurately. The two countries established a mutual trade agreement. establishing a link between diet and cancer Investigators are trying to establish if anyone knew about these problems before the accident.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Dianne Benson, a maverick 1980s retailer, can take some credit for establishing Soho as a fashion destination. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Dianne Benson, A Maverick Retailer in 1980s New York, Talks Fashion, Art, and Collaborators Like David Wojnarowicz and Cindy Sherman," 13 July 2018 Northern Kentucky Health Department succeeded in 2016 in establishing a program in a little city in Grant County but failed in its three biggest counties, Boone, Campell and Kenton. Terry Demio,, "Living with HIV: Fueled by heroin, HIV makes an alarming resurgence in Cincinnati," 11 July 2018 Wittner is in charge of creating a new Office of Enterprise Risk Management, Ethics and Compliance, which interim President John Engler established last month after calls from MSU board member Brian Mosallam for just such a position. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "New chief compliance officer: I'm not here to protect MSU's brand," 11 July 2018 The Sheffield centre was established in 2001 with Boeing as the founding partner. The Economist, "A welcome upgrade to apprenticeships," 12 July 2018 The figure was established in 2002 when members agreed upon a non-binding target to contribute 2% of Gross Domestic Product to collectively share the burden of defense costs. W.j. Hennigan, Time, "President Trump Says NATO Allies Owe the U.S. Money. He's Wrong," 11 July 2018 In Ocean City, the court hierarchy has been long established by the time summer people show up. Amy S. Rosenberg,, "Ocean City and the most cutthroat pickleball game at the Jersey Shore," 11 July 2018 It was established in 2011 to recognize significant contributions to the franchise apart from the Dolphins’ Honor Roll. Mike Persak,, "Dolphins announce six new Walk of Fame inductees," 10 July 2018 Now membership services, and since its acquisition of Whole Foods last years, it is well established with physical locations in the country’s largest cities. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Walmart's Makes Big New York Delivery Push With Bronx Facility," 10 July 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for establish

Middle English establissen, from Anglo-French establiss-, stem of establir, from Latin stabilire, from stabilis stable

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Statistics for establish

Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for establish

The first known use of establish was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for establish



English Language Learners Definition of establish

: to cause (someone or something) to be widely known and accepted

: to put (someone or something) in a position, role, etc., that will last for a long time

: to begin or create (something that is meant to last for a long time)


es·​tab·​lish | \i-ˈsta-blish \
established; establishing

Kids Definition of establish

1 : to bring into being : found They established a colony.

2 : to put beyond doubt : prove She established her innocence.


transitive verb

Legal Definition of establish 

1 : to institute (as a law) permanently by enactment or agreement we the people of the United States…do ordain and establish this ConstitutionU.S. Constitution preamble

2 : to make firm or stable

3 : to bring into existence : found Congress shall have power…to establish post offices and post roadsU.S. Constitution art. I specifically : to found (a national bank) pursuant to a charter

4 : to make (a church) a national or state institution — see also establishment, establishment clause

5 : to put beyond doubt : prove

6 : to place in a position of being accepted or followed a rule established by case law

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Comments on establish

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playful or foolish behavior

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