verb (1)
\ 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


verb (2)
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


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

The city’s treasures — picturesque campaniles and palazzos, charming gondolas plying the Grand Canal, and domed churches that seem to hover over the sparkling Venetian lagoon — exert a magnetic pull that is difficult to resist. Blair Kamin,, "Column: Letter from Venice: A precarious paradise, engaged in a longtime dialogue with Chicago," 5 July 2019 Probable Destination: Real Betis The Argentine centre-back could really be plying histrade anywhere come August, even at the Etihad should a deal for de Ligt or any other targets fall through., "Summer Signings: Predicting Where 30 of the Most Talked About Players Will End Up for 2019/20," 22 June 2019 In the evenings, children play in a riverfront park fountain on a bluff over the Ohio River plied by river barges, with trains rumbling over a bridge to Indiana. Chris Kenning, The Courier-Journal, "What a Kentucky town's 20-year struggle with 'Fairness' says about rural LGBTQ rights," 21 June 2019 Nearby a young male moose lounged in a riverbank glade and a Pronghorn antelope sprinted across fallow farmland once plied by early and unsuccessful Mormon farmers. Peter Reese, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Way To Spend 72 Hours at Jackson Hole," 31 July 2018 There are no paved roads here, just sandy lanes plied by rentable Range Rovers and sturdy mountain bikes. Benjamin Kemper, Condé Nast Traveler, "Spain’s Secret Islands," 14 Feb. 2018 Most of the players ply their trade in the Ukrainian leagues, but their World Cup triumph will have caught the eye of many of Europe's biggest clubs., "U-20 World Cup 2019: Ukraine Beat South Korea to Be Crowned Champions," 15 June 2019 The Kamaishi Seawaves -- formed in 2001 as Nippon Steel Corporation Kamaishi -- currently ply their trade in the Top Challenge League, the second tier of Japanese rugby. George Ramsay, CNN, "How the Rugby World Cup has brought hope to one Japanese City," 12 June 2019 While playwright David Kimple plies his trade in New York, his latest play is taking shape at The Public Theater of San Antonio. Deborah Martin,, "Public Theater of San Antonio to open new play by David Kimple," 11 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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,, "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 Launching just in time for holiday travel is a seven-piece luggage collection in an exclusive vivid green colorway, made of super-tough, tactile, three-ply canvas trimmed with leather. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "It’s Easy Being Green With Vogue x T. Anthony’s Limited-Edition Luggage Collection," 20 Sep. 2018 Pros Soft Very absorbent Dissolves quickly Cons Somewhat weak when wet This two-ply budget buy from BJs outperformed all others. The Good Housekeeping Institute, Good Housekeeping, "Berkley Jensen Ultra Soft Bath Tissue," 8 Sep. 2017

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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Statistics for ply

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ply

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

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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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ply

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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something desired as essential

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