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

Rob Valicoff, the owner of Valicoff Fruit Company, which grows some 1,700 acres of apples, peaches, cherries, apricots and pears, has relied almost entirely on temporary foreign guest workers. Fox News, "Trump administration sees support from farmers over push to cut labor costs," 17 Sep. 2019 Paul increasingly relied on his superior intellect through the 2010s, molding young Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to form Lob City. Michael Shapiro,, "SI's NBA All-Decade Team: Second Team," 17 Sep. 2019 Instead, scientists and explorers typically rely on sound or pressure to measure depth, or both. Wired, "James Cameron, Victor Vescovo, and the Saga of the Deepest* Solo Dive Ever," 17 Sep. 2019 Near Willcox, there’s no surface water whatsoever, so homes, cities and farms all rely on pumping water from the aquifer. Andrew Stern, NBC News, "Draining Arizona: Residents say corporate mega-farms are drying up their wells," 17 Sep. 2019 Those that make up the $215-billion state budget that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law in June rely on the continuation of a six-year run of strong tax revenues, used to restore or expand public services slashed during the last recession. Los Angeles Times, "News Analysis: California’s Legislature tackled big issues in 2019. Bigger fights might be coming," 16 Sep. 2019 Many rely on subscription revenue from their journals—often among the most highly cited in their disciplines—to fund other activities, such as scholarships. Jeffrey Brainard, Science | AAAS, "New deals could help scientific societies survive open access," 16 Sep. 2019 Yet after Edwards, two California federal courts relied on Loral to enforce non-solicitation provisions, most recently in 2015. Dan Eaton, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Restrictions on recruiting former colleagues may be void in California," 16 Sep. 2019 That plan, however, relied on a $48 million commitment from the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, which was abolished in 2011. J.k. Dineen,, "New vision for two megaprojects: One development of almost 4,000 homes across SF and San Mateo counties," 16 Sep. 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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Learn More about rely

Dictionary Entries near rely





rely on/upon



Statistics for rely

Last Updated

3 Oct 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).


a topic to which one constantly reverts

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