re·​ly | \ri-ˈlī \
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 \ 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

Democrats relied more upon women, people of color, young people and college graduates. Jill Colvin, The Seattle Times, "Added Democratic ranks pose threat to Trump governing agenda," 7 Nov. 2018 Nonprofits rely on that extra bit of cash to provide paper and pens to classrooms, or print an additional banner or two. Linda Davis Taylor, SELF, "How to Use Money as an Extension of Your Political Voice," 6 Nov. 2018 Putting it to the test As Gizmodo reported, EnChroma primarily relies on subjective user responses to assess the efficiency of its glasses on enhancing color perception. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Spanish scientists: EnChroma glasses won’t fix your color blindness," 6 Nov. 2018 With so much family drama surrounding Meghan since her engagement was announced, the Duchess of Sussex has relied heavily on her mother's support. Araceli Cruz, Teen Vogue, "Meghan Markle’s Mom Doria Ragland Reportedly Invited to Christmas at Sandringham," 5 Nov. 2018 This relies more on zombie jump-scares and a colorful cast of characters. Joyce Bautista Ferrari, Marie Claire, "The Best Horror Movies That Aren't Too Scary," 29 Oct. 2018 The research relies on fiber optics that imitate the basic structure of life: DNA. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "New Fiber Optic Cable Could Make the Internet 100 Times Faster," 24 Oct. 2018 San Antonio has instead relied on steady, unspectacular growth, with fewer booms—or busts. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "San Antonio, the nation’s fastest-growing city, sees downtown rebound," 23 Oct. 2018 The Kepler team relies on NASA's Deep Space Network to catch the incoming data and must share this system of big radio dishes with other agency missions. Mike Wall,, "NASA's Kepler Planet-Hunting Space Telescope Wakes Up Again," 13 Oct. 2018

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

14 Nov 2018

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 \
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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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).


by force of circumstances

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