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 An unanticipated problem was encountered, check back soon and try again If tie-dye doesn't float your quarantine-craft boat, keep your hands occupied with needlework instead. Betsy Cribb, Southern Living, "I Tie-Dyed Shirts for the First Time Since Middle School, and This Is What I Learned," 15 May 2020 Such events tend to be perpetrated by supermassive black holes like the one that occupies the center of our own Milky Way. Dennis Overbye, New York Times, "Deep in the Cosmic Forest, a Black Hole Goldilocks Might Like," 6 May 2020 In addition to their daily duties with their primary teams, most have side gigs — Davis and Kings play-by-play voice Alex Faust call college games for Fox Sports, while Faust also works events for the Tennis Channel — that occupy their offseasons. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, "The Check-In: L.A. play-by-play broadcasters silenced during coronavirus outbreak," 27 Apr. 2020 The petition, which is up to 38,000 signatures, makes the argument that due to shelter-in-place orders that streamers should drop their fees to assist in keeping America occupied. James Hibberd, EW.com, "Free Netflix: Petition asks streamers to stop charging due to coronavirus," 22 Apr. 2020 As schools and day cares remain closed during the new coronavirus pandemic, kids throughout metro Phoenix are stuck at home without the classwork and regularly scheduled activities that normally occupy their day-to-day lives. Nicole Ludden, azcentral, "Phoenix schools are closed for coronavirus. These online lessons, games will keep them busy," 21 Apr. 2020 Parents, for instance, often send their misbehaved kids to their rooms alone and deprive them of the phones and tablets that occupy their attention. Saida Grundy, The Atlantic, "Why Boredom Affects Us So Much," 17 Apr. 2020 The episode focuses on a 400-square-foot unit in Black's backyard that had, up until now, served as storage for the makeup artist— all that occupies the space are a few shelves filled with plastic storage totes and a couple folding chairs. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "The Property Brothers and Brad Pitt Take on Special Reno During HGTV's New Show "Celebrity IOU"," 14 Apr. 2020 The least controversial of them is Ken Thompson’s Darwin’s Most Wonderful Plants, a survey of the botanical experimenting and theorizing that occupied Darwin’s golden years. David Quammen, The New York Review of Books, "The Brilliant Plodder," 8 Apr. 2020

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

21 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Occupy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occupy. Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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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

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