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Etymology 1[edit]

From Old French applier, (French appliquer), from Latin applicō (join, fix, or attach to); from ad + plicō (fold, twist together). See applicant, ply.


  • IPA(key): /əˈplaɪ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪ


apply (third-person singular simple present applies, present participle applying, simple past and past participle applied)

  1. (transitive) To lay or place; to put (one thing to another)
    to apply cream to a rash
    • 1697, John Dryden, Translation of Virgil's Aeneid:
      He said, and to the sword his throat applied.
  2. (transitive) To put to use; to use or employ for a particular purpose, or in a particular case; to appropriate; to devote
    to apply funds to the repayment of a debt
  3. (transitive) To make use of, declare, or pronounce, as suitable, fitting, or relative; as, to apply the testimony to the case
    He was applied the nickname "Shorty".
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      Yet God at last To Satan, first in sin, his doom applied.
  4. (transitive) To fix closely; to engage and employ diligently, or with attention; to attach; to incline.
  5. (transitive) To betake; to address; to refer; generally used reflexively.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Alexander Pope
      sacred vows [] applied to grisly Pluto
    • (Can we date this quote?) Johnson
      I applied myself to him for help.
  6. (intransitive) To submit oneself as a candidate (with the adposition "to" designating the recipient of the submission, and the adposition "for" designating the position).
    I recently applied to the tavern for a job as a bartender.
    Most of the colleges she applied to were ones she thought she had a good chance of getting into.
    Many of them don't know it, but almost a third of the inmates are eligible to apply for parole or work-release programs.
  7. (intransitive) To pertain or be relevant to a specified individual or group.
    That rule only applies to foreigners.
  8. (obsolete) To busy; to keep at work; to ply.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Sir Philip Sidney
      She was skillful in applying his humours.
  9. (obsolete) To visit.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Chapman
      His armour was so clear, / And he applied each place so fast, that like a lightning thrown / Out of the shield of Jupiter, in every eye he shone.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for apply in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)

Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

apple +‎ -y



apply (comparative more apply, superlative most apply)

  1. Alternative spelling of appley