em·​ploy | \ im-ˈplȯi How to pronounce employ (audio) , em- \
employed; employing; employs

Definition of employ

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to make use of (someone or something inactive) employ a pen for sketching
b : to use (something, such as time) advantageously a job that employed her skills
c(1) : to use or engage the services of
(2) : to provide with a job that pays wages or a salary
2 : to devote to or direct toward a particular activity or person employed all her energies to help the poor


em·​ploy | \ im-ˈplȯi How to pronounce employ (audio) , ˈim-ˌplȯi, ˈem-ˌplȯi How to pronounce employ (audio) \

Definition of employ (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : use, purpose
2 : the state of being employed in the city's employ

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Synonyms & Antonyms for employ

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for employ


use, employ, utilize mean to put into service especially to attain an end. use implies availing oneself of something as a means or instrument to an end. willing to use any means to achieve her ends employ suggests the use of a person or thing that is available but idle, inactive, or disengaged. looking for better ways to employ their skills utilize may suggest the discovery of a new, profitable, or practical use for something. an old wooden bucket utilized as a planter

Examples of employ in a Sentence

Verb The company is accused of employing questionable methods to obtain the contract. You should find better ways to employ your time. I had to employ a lawyer to review the contract. It's a small company, employing a staff of only 20. Noun while you're under our employ, you can't do outside work for our competitors
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb While all teams employ some level of analytics and many teams have sought young managers who embrace front-office game-planning, old-school principles are nicely working throughout the game. John Shea, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 Sep. 2021 The new health system, temporarily to be named the BHSH System, would employ 64,000 people and operate 22 hospitals spanning the state. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, 3 Sep. 2021 Due to land in showrooms around January 2022, the all-new LX will incorporate similar design features to the current LX but employ a larger, more stylized grille and boast even more road presence. Peter Lyon, Forbes, 31 Aug. 2021 The goal is to address any environmental issues at the former base, employ local residents and turn the land into a tourism spot, the letter said. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 30 Aug. 2021 The company is investing $75 million in the facility, which will eventually employ over 200 workers. Ann Gehan, Dallas News, 17 Aug. 2021 While American scrapyards employ hundreds of workers and primarily dismantle U.S. Navy ships, tens of thousands labor in the industry in South Asia, breaking up everything from Russian destroyers to Greek freighters to Japanese tankers. Jacques Kelly, baltimoresun.com, 9 Aug. 2021 AntFarm runs a café and learning garden, which employ local youth and aim to foster sustainability habits. oregonlive, 21 July 2021 National coaches employ wind machines and pump artificial noise (crowd sounds, camera shutters) through speakers to simulate adverse environmental conditions athletes might encounter in competition. New York Times, 20 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Clinton has never flatly apologized to Lewinsky for his behavior to someone who was not only much, much younger but also someone who was in his employ. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 8 Sep. 2021 And as of Tuesday evening, Mr. Cuomo had few supporters left, aside from those in his employ. New York Times, 10 Aug. 2021 The only other right-shot defenders under Boston employ are 2017 seventh-rounder Victor Berglund, who played with Lulea in the Swedish Hockey League last year, and free agent signee Tyler Lewington, a 26-year-old from Washington’s system. BostonGlobe.com, 6 Aug. 2021 Recently two city staff members instrumentally involved in the creation of a comprehensive plan left the city’s employ. Brian Slupski, chicagotribune.com, 9 June 2021 And as of Tuesday evening, Mr. Cuomo had few supporters left, aside from those in his employ. New York Times, 10 Aug. 2021 And as of Tuesday evening, Mr. Cuomo had few supporters left, aside from those in his employ. New York Times, 10 Aug. 2021 And as of Tuesday evening, Mr. Cuomo had few supporters left, aside from those in his employ. Matt Flegenheimer, New York Times, 3 Aug. 2021 The Houthis employ child soldiers and indiscriminately lay landmines. CBS News, 10 May 2021

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1679, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for employ


Middle English emploien, from Anglo-French empleier, emploier, emplier to entangle, apply, make use of, from Latin implicare to enfold, involve, from in- + plicare to fold — more at ply

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The first known use of employ was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

15 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Employ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/employ. Accessed 25 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for employ



English Language Learners Definition of employ

: to use (something) for a particular purpose or to do something
: to use or direct (something, such as your time or effort) in order to achieve a particular goal
: to use or get the services of (someone) to do a particular job


em·​ploy | \ im-ˈplȯi How to pronounce employ (audio) \
employed; employing

Kids Definition of employ

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to give a job to : use the services of The company employs over 500 workers.
2 : to make use of They employ traditional methods of farming.



Kids Definition of employ (Entry 2 of 2)

: the state of being hired for a job by The gentleman is in the employ of a large bank.

More from Merriam-Webster on employ

Nglish: Translation of employ for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of employ for Arabic Speakers


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