oc·​cu·​py | \ ˈä-kyə-ˌpī How to pronounce occupy (audio) \
occupied; occupying

Definition of occupy

transitive verb

1 : to engage the attention or energies of They occupied themselves with video games.
2a : to take up (a place or extent in space) this chair is occupied the fireplace will occupy this corner of the room
b : to take or fill (an extent in time) the hobby occupies all of my free time
3a : to take or hold possession or control of enemy troops occupied the ridge
b : to fill or perform the functions of (an office or position) will occupy the newly created office of chancellorCurrent Biography
4 : to reside in as an owner or tenant occupies an apartment on a two-year lease

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Other Words from occupy

occupier \ ˈä-​kyə-​ˌpī(-​ə)r How to pronounce occupier (audio) \ noun

Examples of occupy in a Sentence

They have occupied the apartment for three years. She occupies the house that her grandfather built 50 years ago. They own another house that they occupy only three months out of the year. They occupy the room next to ours. This region was once almost completely occupied by forests. Their house occupies a beautiful spot next to the ocean. Much of our time is occupied by answering questions from our customers. These questions have continued to occupy her mind.
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Recent Examples on the Web The Chinese University of Hong Kong was occupied by protesters for five days in mid-November, and several other schools saw large demonstrations. BostonGlobe.com, "Hong Kong police end 2-week campus siege - The Boston Globe," 1 Dec. 2019 The Chinese University of Hong Kong was occupied by protesters for five days in mid-November, and several other schools saw large demonstrations. Austin Ramzy, New York Times, "Hong Kong Police End 2-Week Campus Siege," 29 Nov. 2019 For example, as of December 2011 and June 2012, respectively, Trump’s business told the lender that 99% and 98.7% of the tower’s commercial space was occupied, according to a prospectus for the loan. Heather Vogell, ProPublica, "Trump Tax Records Reveal New Inconsistencies — This Time for Trump Tower," 27 Nov. 2019 Those neighborhoods were abandoned by the government before they were occupied by new residents. Nikil Saval, The New Yorker, "The Plight of the Urban Planner," 20 Nov. 2019 On Wednesday, the campus was still occupied by hundreds of students preparing to defend themselves against the police. Time, "Foreign Students Are Fleeing Hong Kong as Protests Escalate on College Campuses," 15 Nov. 2019 Before Erik's opened in 2013, the storefront at 151 E. Silver Spring Drive was occupied by Les Moise, a tennis, skiing and snowboarding retailer that moved to Mequon in 2012. Jeff Rumage, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Erik's Bike Shop will move from Whitefish Bay to Bayshore," 12 Nov. 2019 At the ultra-big, ultra-busy Goodwill thrift store at 21 S. Broadway, supervisor Toni Duran expects business to be booming when both buildings are fully occupied. Joe Rubino, The Denver Post, "Denver’s South Broadway is going through big changes. Again.," 8 Nov. 2019 Yes, on a week when the orchestra itself was otherwise occupied, during a season devoted in part to Schubert, a Schubert recital by Uchida wasn’t just the next best thing. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Pianist Mitsuko Uchida channels Schubert on sublime recital at Severance Hall," 4 Nov. 2019

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for occupy

Middle English occupien "to take possession of, hold, inhabit, take up space in, fill, keep (oneself) busy," borrowed from Anglo-French occuper, occupier, borrowed from Latin occupāre "to grasp, appropriate to oneself, take possession of, fill up (space, a position), forestall," from oc-, assimilated variant of ob- ob- + -cupāre, intensive derivative of capere "to take, seize, catch" — more at heave entry 1

Note: The source of the -i- in Anglo-French occupier and Middle English occupien, retained in Modern English, is unclear, as continental French has only occuper. The verb occupy, common in later Middle and early Modern English, was very infrequently used in the 17th and first two thirds of the 18th century; it has been suggested that this was due to the sense "to have sexual intercourse with (a woman)," which impinged by connotation on the less charged meanings and led to a taboo on any use of the word. When the socially unacceptable sense fell out of circulation occupy once more became a generally used word.

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Time Traveler for occupy

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for occupy

Last Updated

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Occupy.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occupied. Accessed 15 December 2019.

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More Definitions for occupy


How to pronounce occupy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of occupy

somewhat formal : to live in (a house, apartment, etc.)
: to fill or be in (a place or space)
: to fill or use (an amount of time)


oc·​cu·​py | \ ˈä-kyə-ˌpī How to pronounce occupy (audio) \
occupied; occupying

Kids Definition of occupy

1 : to fill up (an extent of time or space) Sports occupy our spare time. A liter of water occupies 1000 cubic centimeters of space.
2 : to take up the attention or energies of Reading occupied me most of the summer.
3 : to live in as an owner or tenant Her sisters occupied the house for three years.
4 : to take or hold possession of Enemy troops occupied the town.
5 : to perform the functions of She occupies a position of authority.

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More from Merriam-Webster on occupy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for occupy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with occupy

Spanish Central: Translation of occupy

Nglish: Translation of occupy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of occupy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on occupy

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delight or enjoyment

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