\ ˈplī How to pronounce ply (audio) \
plied; plying

Definition of ply

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to use or wield diligently busily plying his pen
b : to practice or perform diligently ply a trade
2 : to keep furnishing or supplying something to plied us with liquor
3a : to make a practice of rowing or sailing over or on the boat plies the river
b : to go or travel regularly over, on, or through jets plying the skies

intransitive verb

1 : to apply oneself steadily
2 : to go or travel regularly


plural plies

Definition of ply (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : one of several layers (as of cloth) usually sewn or laminated together
b : one of the strands in a yarn
c : one of the veneer sheets forming plywood
d : a layer of a paper or cardboard
plied; plying

Definition of ply (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to twist together ply two single yarns

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Examples of ply in a Sentence

Noun a single ply of fabric since taking a ply to French burgundies, he's hardly even looked at anything else in the wine store
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb That includes looking at players plying their trade outside of the National Women’s Soccer League and the American collegiate game. Pardeep Cattry, Pro Soccer USA, "Vlatko Andonovski looks to evolve, not change USWNT as next head coach," 29 Oct. 2019 It’s hard to see how hedge funds make up that difference plying the same strategy. Washington Post, "Vinik Failed to Resurrect a Hedge Fund. Who Needs One?," 25 Oct. 2019 One of the ladies was left without her lady parts in the dark alley across from the YMCA and the Concord Building, where Harry plied his deadly trade. Verna Gates, al, "8 spooky stories about Birmingham’s haunted past," 14 Oct. 2019 For some, the first step was simple — reduce the speed at which their fleets ply the oceans. Natalie Croker, CNN, "Shipping is one of the dirtiest industries. Now it's trying to clean up its act," 3 Oct. 2019 By this time on an early Friday evening, dozens of them should have launched with tourists and party groups, but instead the pole men who ply the calm, murky waters for about $25 an hour sat chatting. Washington Post, "After drowning, new rules, Mexico City canals see drop-off," 6 Sep. 2019 Ballon d'Or winner Ada Hegerberg is one of 13 who ply their trade for the French juggernaut. Daniel Gallan, CNN, "Liverpool's European kings honored in FIFPro World XI shortlist," 5 Sep. 2019 Their other central midfielders include Oriol Romeu, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Mario Lemina who all typically ply their trade deeper in the midfield. SI.com, "Southampton 2019/20 Season Preview: Strengths, Weaknesses, Key Man and Predictions," 7 Aug. 2019 Garcia was an undersized player out of Gilroy High, Gavilan College and San Jose State who plied his trade in Canada before getting a chance from 49ers head coach Bill Walsh. Ann Killion, SFChronicle.com, "Former 49ers QB Jeff Garcia, a Gilroy native: ‘Our community will rise above’," 3 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The tires, which were designed by Kenda just for this bike, are semi-fat, all-terrain 20-inchers with an extra ply for a higher load rating. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "Rad Power Bikes Just Built a Two-Seat Electric Minibike," 12 Sep. 2019 The double-ply roll from Charmin combines solid durability with unparalleled comfort. Valerie Li, USA TODAY, "The best Prime Day deals under $10 right now," 16 July 2019 Lopez wasn’t in Milwaukee long enough to qualify, meaning the Bucks will have to get creative to keep him or risk seeing their game-changing stretch five ply his trade elsewhere. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "NBA Free Agency 2019: Top 50 Players Available," 24 June 2019 In each stall, a long metal bar held a half-dozen rolls of single-ply toilet paper. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Hiking to Havasupai: How far is it, what's Mooney Falls like and everything you need to know," 24 June 2019 For the oldest cars, which ran on bias ply tires in period, these are supplied by Avon, which also supports the historic racing community with new rubber. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "If you’re crazy rich, you can pay Ferrari to be a test driver," 14 June 2019 The ply, or number of threads wrapped together, as well as fiber choice makes a difference, too. Hannah Morrill, ELLE Decor, "The Best Luxury Sheets For the Perfect Night's Sleep," 15 Nov. 2018 Over the past century and a half or so, the humble automobile has seen a million advancements: fuel injection, radial-ply tires, self-driving technology, cupholders. Blake Z. Rong, Popular Mechanics, "10 Innovations That Made the Modern Car," 4 Dec. 2018 North and south walls feature Cedartech panels—band-sawn gaboon, a tropical hardwood, pressed onto radiata ply. Karen Bruno, WSJ, "Wealthy Homeowners Find a Luxurious Way to Shelter Outdoors," 1 Aug. 2018

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

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1532, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (2)

circa 1909, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ply

Verb (1)

Middle English plien, short for applien to apply

Verb (2) and Noun

Middle English plien to fold, from Anglo-French plier, pleier, from Latin plicare; akin to Old High German flehtan to braid, Latin plectere, Greek plekein

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Time Traveler for ply

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for ply

Last Updated

14 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Ply.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plied. Accessed 21 November 2019.

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More Definitions for ply



English Language Learners Definition of ply

: one of the layers, folds, or strands that make something (such as yarn or plywood)


\ ˈplī How to pronounce ply (audio) \
plied; plying

Kids Definition of ply

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to use something steadily or forcefully ply an ax
2 : to keep supplying They plied their guest with food.
3 : to work at Carpenters were busy plying their trade.


plural plies

Kids Definition of ply (Entry 2 of 2)

: one of the folds, layers, or threads of which something (as yarn or plywood) is made up

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More from Merriam-Webster on ply

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ply

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ply

Spanish Central: Translation of ply

Nglish: Translation of ply for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ply for Arabic Speakers

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