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

Keep scrolling for more

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 The move will provide a boost for major carriers such as Air France-KLM and Deutsche Lufthansa that ply the profitable transatlantic corridors along with their American counterparts. Nikos Chrysoloras And Siddharth Philip / Bloomberg, Time, 18 June 2021 Paddlers will ply the waters of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Lake Superior, search for an island campsite on the Willow Flowage and navigate around the sandbars of the Lower Wisconsin River from Prairie du Sac to Prairie du Chien. Barry Adams, Star Tribune, 2 June 2021 Fortunately no one was walking by just then, but one of the tourist boats that constantly ply the canals had just passed., 5 June 2021 Artisans ply their skills according to precise guild specifications that predate the Italian Renaissance. Avedis Hadjian, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 June 2021 And a van can even be a mobile place of business, the rolling base from which tradesmen and women ply their crafts. The Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, 18 May 2021 Ferries, fishing boats, cruise ships, and massive cargo ships ply the route, with the wide, graceful curve of the Bay of Tangier just below. Graham Cornwell, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 May 2021 Fleets of ships ply the oceans to catch fish for domestic cats, the descendants of predatory land animals. New York Times, 11 May 2021 But local politicians and business leaders said loopholes in the law permit the performers to ply their trade beyond the restricted zones and into Manhattan’s Theater District, which lies just outside the square. Paul Berger, WSJ, 5 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The padding is 5mm and two-ply neoprene to provide protection to all sliding areas. Chris Hachey, BGR, 5 May 2021 The additional length allows the cotton to be spun into a durable single-ply thread that can then be woven into a softer, finer fabric. oregonlive, 4 Apr. 2021 The notecards feature sun and moon phases painted by the artist and printed on luxurious two-ply paper with edges gilded in rose gold. Chairish, Forbes, 5 May 2021 The padding is 5mm and two-ply neoprene to provide protection to all sliding areas. Chris Hachey, BGR, 5 May 2021 The padding is 5mm and two-ply neoprene to provide protection to all sliding areas. Chris Hachey, BGR, 5 May 2021 But while people were scrambling for packs of two-ply, online retailer Etsy, which gives crafters, artists, and other independent retailers a platform for selling their goods, saw explosive growth. Fortune, 21 Apr. 2021 Negative language and tone are a subtle but powerful way to silence others, and meetings are one place that masters of subtlety ply this skill. Andrea Hill, Forbes, 18 Apr. 2021 The padding is 5mm and two-ply neoprene to provide protection to all sliding areas. Chris Hachey, BGR, 24 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About ply

Time Traveler for ply

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for ply

Last Updated

21 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ply.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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 that make something (as yarn or plywood)

More from Merriam-Webster on ply

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ply

Nglish: Translation of ply for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ply for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Return of Name that Color!

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!