\ 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 Also, several budding American soccer prospects, like Weston McKennie and Gio Reyna, ply their trade here. Briar Napier, azcentral, "England's Premier League is back Wednesday as international soccer kicks it up a notch," 16 June 2020 But his bald visage has for many come to represent dysfunction in Fulton County’s criminal justice system, one that has led to clogged courts and repeat offenders getting out to continue to ply their trade. Bill Torpy, ajc, "OPINION: Paul Howard’s generational curse isn’t biblical, it’s political," 22 May 2020 Sometimes that involved plying them with whiskey and cigars, Colangelo said. Kent Somers, azcentral, "The Arizona Republic played big role in making the Valley 'big league' sports destination," 19 May 2020 At first the cephalopods, like petulant tots, pulled off the glasses—until scientists plied them with treats: live shrimps. National Geographic, "Cuttlefish glasses, counting strings, and other novel tools," 19 May 2020 The dealer picked Trobisch up at his hotel at 2 a.m., drove him to a high-rise apartment, and plied him with cigars and whiskey. Ariel Sabar, The Atlantic, "A Mystery at Oxford," 13 May 2020 Meanwhile, the row over equivalence — or rather whether London's financial firms will be able to ply their trade in the single market after Brexit — is rumbling on. Edward Evans, Bloomberg.com, "Brexit Bulletin: Collision Course," 29 Apr. 2020 The lawsuit claims that Nygard used his company, Nygard International, and employees to procure young victims and ply them with alcohol and drugs. BostonGlobe.com, "The mogul, the villa and the feud that launched a rape case," 23 Feb. 2020 Stay-away orders from the entire Tenderloin and South of Market area — or even San Francisco itself — would make sense seeing as how many dealers come from the East Bay to ply their deadly wares. Heather Knight, SFChronicle.com, "Another of the Tenderloin’s lost souls dies on the street as San Francisco dithers," 8 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Golden green reusable face cover: This mask is machine washable, made of 100 percent two-ply jersey cotton and is lightweight for comfort and breathability. Yadi Rodriguez, cleveland, "Need a new face mask for coronavirus protection? Here are some of the best on Amazon," 25 June 2020 Fifty-thousand-year-old three-ply string was found in France, and a twenty-thousand-year-old circle of sixty-four mammoth skulls and fifty-one mandibles was found in the Russian Plain. Rafil Kroll-zaidi, Harper's Magazine, "Findings," 23 June 2020 The park said the structural glass is three-ply with an upper layer serving solely as protection for the other layers. Stephanie Toone, ajc, "Gatlinburg’s SkyBridge is back open after guest damaged glass panel on bridge," 16 June 2020 The structural glass is three-ply with the upper layer serving solely to protect the additional layers and does not affect structural integrity in any way, the park said. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, "Gatlinburg SkyBridge closes after visitor does baseball slide, cracks glass panel," 16 June 2020 The feeling is a little like driving on bias-ply tires. Dan Neil, Car and Driver, "Tested: 2003 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Takes Fast SUVs to New Heights," 2 June 2020 And for the more plant-knowledgeable survivor, inner bark fiber from certain trees can be twisted into two ply cordage of any length and thickness. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, "10 Primitive Survival Skills that Will Keep You Alive," 26 May 2020 Honorable Mentions: Love is sacrificing the last ply. Wired Readers, Wired, "Six-Word Sci-Fi: Write About Love in the Time of Coronavirus," 19 May 2020 For a product like toilet paper with single-ply margins, every penny saved is key. Jen Wieczner, Fortune, "The case of the missing toilet paper: How the coronavirus exposed U.S. supply chain flaws," 18 May 2020

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

20 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ply.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ply. Accessed 7 Jul. 2020.

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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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