re·​ly | \ ri-ˈlī How to pronounce rely (audio) \
relied; relying

Definition of rely

intransitive verb

1 : to be dependent the system on which we rely for water
2 : to have confidence based on experience someone you can rely on

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Other Words from rely

relier \ ri-​ˈlī(-​ə)r How to pronounce relier (audio) \ noun

Examples of rely in a Sentence

rigorously tested the rope before starting out, for the rock climbers would be relying on it with their very lives

Recent Examples on the Web

The score was 21-0 at halftime and Desert Mountain relied heavily on its ground game behind senior running back Bret Narveson (15 carries, 77 yards). Danny Shapiro, azcentral, "Arizona high school football Week 2: Game results from around the Valley," 30 Aug. 2019 The philosophy that informs his actions relies heavily on emotional intelligence to communicate and inspire, and that can apply when leading employees too. Jeanne Sahadi, CNN, "What executives can learn from a horse," 29 Aug. 2019 Throughout the race, Ms. Gillibrand averaged less than 1 percent support in national surveys and struggled to raise money, relying heavily on a $10 million war chest in her Senate campaign account. Alexander Burns, New York Times, "Kirsten Gillibrand Drops Out of 2020 Democratic Presidential Race," 28 Aug. 2019 AltSarkar is a role-play government that relies heavily on satire to present a parallel universe, an alternative reality. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "A poll on Twitter has birthed an all-spoof alternative Indian government," 28 Aug. 2019 During Fernandez’s time with the club, Necaxa relied heavily on their wingers to score the lion’s share of goals. Jamie Goldberg,, "Portland Timbers forward Brian Fernandez unlikely to move to the wing," 28 Aug. 2019 The project relies heavily on local sales tax funds, with nearly $3 billion from Santa Clara County’s measures A and B contributing to the project, along with another $375 million in toll funds under Regional Measure 3. Erin Baldassari, The Mercury News, "Federal government readies to give BART’s San Jose extension first installment of funds," 28 Aug. 2019 The court relied heavily on historical practice in reaching a decision, citing the Supreme Court's recent decision upholding the Peace Cross war memorial. Fox News, "Pennsylvania House's policy banning atheists from opening prayer does not violate Constitution, court says," 27 Aug. 2019 The current nationwide 4G networks rely heavily on sub-1GHz spectrum. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "DOJ’s plan to make Dish the fourth major carrier has a fatal flaw," 27 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rely.' 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 rely

1574, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for rely

Middle English relien to rally, from Anglo-French relier to retie, gather, rally, from Latin religare to tie out of the way, from re- + ligare to tie — more at ligature

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Dictionary Entries near rely





rely on/upon



Statistics for rely

Last Updated

5 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rely

The first known use of rely was in 1574

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More Definitions for rely


re·​ly | \ ri-ˈlī How to pronounce rely (audio) \
relied; relying

Kids Definition of rely

: to trust in or depend on I rely on my family to help me out.
relied; relying

Legal Definition of rely

: to depend with confidence : place faith

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More from Merriam-Webster on rely

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rely

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rely

Spanish Central: Translation of rely

Nglish: Translation of rely for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rely for Arabic Speakers

Comments on rely

What made you want to look up rely? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


readily or continually undergoing change

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