in·​sure in-ˈshu̇r How to pronounce insure (audio)
insured; insuring

transitive verb

: to provide or obtain insurance on or for
: to make certain especially by taking necessary measures and precautions

intransitive verb

: to contract to give or take insurance

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 insure

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 insure in a Sentence

He found the language not obscene … but did find it intentionally disruptive, and held that school officials had the right to insure that a high-school assembly proceed in an orderly manner, without hoots and howls and all that snickering. William Safire, New York Times Magazine, 24 Aug. 1986
… his sudden fame probably insured a backlash. Calvin Tomkins, New Yorker, 6 Dec. 1982
The fact that by supplying his uncle with an amusing mistress he would insure against any awkward second marriage was merely a fortunate coincidence. Mollie Hardwick, Emma, Lady Hamilton, 1969
We insured our house against fire and flood damage. I found a company that will insure my car for less than I've been paying. This policy will insure your car against theft. She had difficulty finding a company that would insure her. They take great care to insure the safety and security of their home. We hope that careful planning will insure success. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Washington insured more than 155,000 people in 2021, accounting for more than half of the total lives insured during the year, according to the AM Best report. Eva Rothenberg, CNN, 16 Sep. 2023 They’re insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, up to $250,000 per bank per depositor. Steve Garmhausen,, 15 Sep. 2023 Money market accounts and CDs, though, are FDIC insured up to $250,000. Medora Lee, USA TODAY, 10 Sep. 2023 But some of the Big Bend’s older homes may have been passed down for generations, owned outright and not insured. Rebecca Blackwell and Laura Bargfeld, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Sep. 2023 International financial institutions and lenders must also develop mechanisms to insure countries against debt crises in the event of major shocks. Foreign Affairs, 22 Aug. 2023 The cost of insuring big new developments of stick-frame housing, the kind springing up at the edges of cities like Denver and Calgary, Alberta, and across the Texas plains, skyrocketed, according to Mr. Kent. Emily Flitter, New York Times, 21 Aug. 2023 People who are not insured or whose insurance has high deductibles and copays can reach out to community clinics for free or reduced COVID care. Fran Kritz, Verywell Health, 17 Aug. 2023 The company assists vulnerable communities to be better equipped to mitigate and insure any unforeseen events related to wildfires. Jon Stojan, USA TODAY, 1 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'insure.' 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, to assure, probably alteration of assuren

First Known Use

1635, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of insure was in 1635

Dictionary Entries Near insure

Cite this Entry

“Insure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​sure in-ˈshu̇(ə)r How to pronounce insure (audio)
insured; insuring
: to give or get insurance on or for
: to make certain : ensure

Legal Definition


in·​sure in-ˈshu̇r How to pronounce insure (audio)
insured; insuring

transitive verb

: to assure against a loss by a contingent event on certain stipulated conditions or at a given rate of premium : give, take, or procure insurance on or for

intransitive verb

: to contract to give insurance : underwrite
also : to procure or effect insurance

More from Merriam-Webster on insure

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