\ 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 Frances spent her childhood in a variety of venues as her father plied his many occupations, ultimately ending up on the shores of paper Goods Pond in Kensington. courant.com, "Frances Margaret Pagini," 1 Dec. 2019 The area around the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (SEZ), a swathe of north-western Laos where Ms Liu, a taxi driver, plies her trade, is famous for its tigers. The Economist, "Laos still winks at tiger farms," 28 Nov. 2019 Limiting the number of vessels that ply the river is an obvious measure. Shreya Dasgupta, Quartz India, "Noisy ships on India’s Ganga river are drowning the clicks of dolphins," 21 Nov. 2019 Tests planned for late November or early December will determine whether commercial crabbers can start plying the Pacific beginning Dec. 16. USA TODAY, "Surfboard proposal, Duke dorm opossum, Sky Bar’s back: News from around our 50 states," 15 Nov. 2019 The main roads that taxis have plied for decades suddenly became impassable unless by canoes. Nuits Balnéaires, Quartz Africa, "A photographer captured how unprecedented floods ravaged a World Heritage site in Côte d’Ivoire," 11 Nov. 2019 The Ohlone people of Northern California once tied tule stalks into large bundles to cobble together rudimentary canoes that plied the waters of San Francisco Bay. Steve Rubenstein, SFChronicle.com, "Reeds, hands and old ways come together to make Ohlone boat to paddle to Alcatraz," 13 Oct. 2019 There’s a reason sailors have been plying the Mediterranean for millennia—there are incredible places to see and near-perfect at-sea conditions in which to get there. Elissa Garay, Condé Nast Traveler, "6 Stress-Free Cruises for First-Timers," 9 Oct. 2019 Others recalled being plied with narcotics while wearing tight underwear. Hannah Knowles, Washington Post, "Wealthy Democratic donor faces federal charge amid outrage over fatal overdose in his apartment," 20 Sep. 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

12 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Ply.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ply?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=p&file=ply00001. Accessed 14 December 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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