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See also: engagé


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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English engagen, from Old French engagier (to pledge, engage), from Frankish *anwadjōn (to pledge), from Proto-Germanic *an-, *andi- + Proto-Germanic *wadjōną (to pledge, secure), from Proto-Germanic *wadją (pledge, guarantee), from Proto-Indo-European *wedʰ- (to pledge, redeem a pledge; guarantee, bail), equivalent to en- +‎ gage. Cognate with Old English anwedd (pledge, security), Old English weddian (to engage, covenant, undertake), German wetten (to bet, wager), Icelandic veðja (to wager). More at wed.


  • IPA(key): /ɪnˈɡeɪd͡ʒ/, /ɛnˈɡeɪd͡ʒ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪdʒ


engage (third-person singular simple present engages, present participle engaging, simple past and past participle engaged)

  1. (transitive) To interact socially.
    1. To engross or hold the attention of; to keep busy or occupied.
    2. To draw into conversation.
      • 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Introductory”, in The Scarlet Letter, a Romance, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, OCLC 223202227:
        the difficult task of engaging him in conversation
      • 2022 September 21, Christian Wolmar, “Trevelyan must 'give a damn' and engage with the railway”, in RAIL, number 966, page 45:
        Shapps refused to engage with the unions and claimed that the industrial disputes were nothing to do with him, despite controlling the purse strings.
    3. To attract, to please; (archaic) to fascinate or win over (someone).
  2. To interact antagonistically.
    1. (transitive) To enter into conflict with (an enemy).
      • 1698-1699, Edmund Ludlow, Memoirs
        a favourable opportunity of engaging the enemy
      • 2018 December 12, Drachinifel, HMAS Sydney - Legendary fights with Angry Australians[1], archived from the original on 9 December 2022, retrieved 21 January 2022, 5:45 from the start:
        Having failed to become the first warship to shoot down another planet, the fleet would then engage the Italian cruiser screen the next afternoon, with Sydney not scoring any hits on its opposite numbers but managing to damage an Italian destroyer.
    2. (intransitive) To enter into battle.
  3. To interact contractually.
    1. (transitive) To arrange to employ or use (a worker, a space, etc.).
      • 1905, Baroness Emmuska Orczy, chapter 2, in The Affair at the Novelty Theatre[2]:
        For this scene, a large number of supers are engaged, and in order to further swell the crowd, practically all the available stage hands have to ‘walk on’ dressed in various coloured dominoes, and all wearing masks.
    2. (intransitive) To guarantee or promise (to do something).
    3. (transitive) To bind through legal or moral obligation (to do something, especially to marry) (usually in passive).
      They were engaged last month! They're planning to have the wedding next year.
    4. (obsolete, transitive) To pledge, pawn (one's property); to put (something) at risk or on the line; to mortgage (houses, land).
  4. To interact mechanically.
    1. To mesh or interlock (of machinery, especially a clutch).
      Whenever I engage the clutch, the car stalls out.
      • 1964 April, G. Freeman Allen, “The BRB shows traders the Liner train prototypes”, in Modern Railways, page 265:
        The Liner train wagon is a simple underframe on bogies, with coned location points that engage recesses in the container bases.
    2. (engineering, transitive) To come into gear with.
      The teeth of one cogwheel engage those of another.
  5. (intransitive) To enter into (an activity), to participate (construed with in).
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 639762314:
      We are engaged in a great work, a treatise on our river fortifications, perhaps? But since when did army officers afford the luxury of amanuenses in this simple republic?
  6. (transitive, obsolete) To entangle.


Derived terms[edit]






  1. inflection of engager:
    1. first/third-person singular present indicative/subjunctive
    2. second-person singular imperative