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 occupy (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 last two linemen to occupy USC’s left tackle spot have become first-round draft picks. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, "15 takeaways from USC spring football practices," 1 May 2021 Among them was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who beat out one of the most powerful Democrats in the House and, in her first week on the job, joined the Sunrise Movement to occupy her new boss’s office, demanding a Green New Deal. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "Biden’s 100-Day Honeymoon With the Climate Left Is Coming to an End," 29 Apr. 2021 Her firm is conducting unconscious bias training for the League, in conjunction with other structural changes, like expanding the board and allowing associate members (who are more likely to be younger and of color) to occupy leadership positions. Lee Seymour, Forbes, "‘We’re Not Going Back’: Inside Broadway’s Racial Reckoning," 28 Apr. 2021 Per league policy, an NFL employee must be vaccinated in order to occupy the draft room this week. Michael Gehlken, Dallas News, "Sean Lee to consider career in coaching, leaves door open for a return to the Cowboys in some capacity," 27 Apr. 2021 Extended-stay rentals allow guests to occupy a room or facility for at least 30 consecutive days. Nyamekye Daniel, Washington Examiner, "Kemp signs bills on lodging tax, income tax credit for teachers," 23 Apr. 2021 Art finds a way to occupy almost any material and alight in any tool. Jerry Saltz, Vulture, "Think of NFTs As a Brush," 15 Apr. 2021 But a similar, less expansive plan to allow people experiencing homelessness to occupy many public spaces remains in play with 2 ½ months left in lawmakers’ session. oregonlive, "Bill to allow homeless people broad use of public spaces in Oregon dies in committee," 14 Apr. 2021 The Philippine defense minister has warned that Beijing is also planning to occupy and assert its control over more disputed territory. Benjamin Hall, Fox News, "China's paramilitary ships 'swarming' South China Sea reef by the hundreds," 6 Apr. 2021

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

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Occupy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occupy. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for occupy



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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