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

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 Many Filipinos are increasingly aware that the livelihoods of their country’s fishermen are being threatened by Chinese boats that ply the South China Sea. New York Times, 9 May 2022 The rollout of Lockdown Mode follows several recent triumphs against spyware companies, who for a long time appeared able to ply their trade with impunity. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 7 July 2022 With possession of my email address and the authentic email the owner had sent me in January, TA578 now had the raw materials to ply its trade. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 7 July 2022 Attempting to ply a middle route, this year’s G-20 president, Indonesia, has tried to bridge what gaps are possible, laying out an agenda that is not inherently divisive or political. Matthew Lee, ajc, 7 July 2022 Concrete dividers were lowered into place to create cycleways that will protect cyclists from the two-way trams that will continue to ply the thoroughfare. Carlton Reid, Forbes, 4 July 2022 Traditionally, the San Diego County event is the first major fair of the season for the vendors who ply the national fair circuit. San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 June 2022 These have been reported and defined by Mundo Deportivo on Friday, currently ply their trade in places as far and wide as Portugal and Bulgaria from Western to Eastern Europe, and are as follows. Tom Sanderson, Forbes, 6 May 2022 For sideshow performers who typically ply their trade in bars and other traditional venues, working the World of Wonders is a badge of honor. David Hill, Harper’s Magazine , 27 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Dior Maison surfboard is composed of polyester, polyurethane foam, fiberglass, polyethylene and three-ply lime wood. Demetrius Simms, Robb Report, 5 July 2022 Two-ply yarn means a thread that is made up of two smaller strands that have been twisted together. Lexie Sachs, Good Housekeeping, 31 May 2022 The district warehouse stores two-ply TP for schools. Connor Sanders, The Salt Lake Tribune, 31 Mar. 2022 Gimmicky marketers use two- or three-ply yarns to double or triple the thread count. Lexie Sachs, Good Housekeeping, 31 May 2022 The masks feature five layers, including a three-ply nanofiber membrane filter, which has been tested by Nelson Labs to provide over 99.9 percent filtration against viruses, bacteria, pollen, air pollution, smoke and other pollutants. Nicole Charky-chami, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 Mar. 2022 And a three-ply mask is much more effective in shielding people from infection. Chris Morris, Fortune, 3 Jan. 2022 High-strength steel, nylon, or polyester plies don’t need to use as much material to provide an equivalent capacity to the cotton plies of yore, so tires now feature a ply equivalent rating. Wes Siler, Outside Online, 6 Apr. 2021 Jacob celebrates receiving a roll of two-ply toilet paper with his class on March 22, 2022. Connor Sanders, The Salt Lake Tribune, 31 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

8 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ply.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for ply


\ 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 that make something (as yarn or plywood)

More from Merriam-Webster on ply

Nglish: Translation of ply for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ply for Arabic Speakers


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