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 rely (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 But very few people (1.5%) rely on penetration alone to orgasm during masturbation. Anna Pulley, Chicago Tribune, 24 May 2022 Some inland glaciers, upon which around two billion people rely as the main source of drinking water, have already reached the point of no return, the assessment showed. Patrick Galey, NBC News, 18 May 2022 People who live along the Mekong rely on the river’s bounty for food and income. New York Times, 18 May 2022 Eventually if this emptiness is not filled by a return to in-person interactions, young people will rely more and more on social media—which will sustain us only for a limited time before the addiction takes over and causes harm. WSJ, 17 May 2022 People must rely on each other to ease the pain of McAdam's passing. Rae Johnson, The Courier-Journal, 13 May 2022 People like myself, who are not digital-savvy, rely on the info in the column. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, 11 May 2022 Around 40 million people in the West rely on water from the Colorado River and its two largest reservoirs -- Lake Mead and Lake Powell -- where levels have fallen for years amid a historic drought. Travis Caldwell, CNN, 10 May 2022 Streams that people here rely on to feed their families with salmon show signs of degradation. Anchorage Daily News, 29 Apr. 2022 See More

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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Learn More About rely

Dictionary Entries Near rely



rely on/upon

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Statistics for rely

Last Updated

26 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Rely.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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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.


intransitive verb
relied; relying

Legal Definition of rely

: to depend with confidence : place faith

More from Merriam-Webster on rely

Nglish: Translation of rely for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rely for Arabic Speakers


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