Definition of occupy in English:


Line breaks: oc¦cupy
Pronunciation: /ˈɒkjʊpʌɪ

verb (occupies, occupying, occupied)

[with object]
  • 2Fill or take up (a space or time): two long windows occupied almost the whole of the end wall
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    • Fluid fills the space normally occupied by air in the middle ear.
    • The congregation had to negotiate dangerous steep stairs and fill the space not occupied by a spinning wheel and furniture.
    • These are hollow casts that partially fill the space once occupied by the original crystals of anhydrite.
  • 2.1Be situated in or at (a position in a system or hierarchy): the Bank of England occupies a central position in the UK financial system
    More example sentences
    • Spike slips down within the masculine hierarchy to occupy a significantly marginalized position.
    • The PRC will undoubtedly be an important influence on an international system in which it occupies a rather anomalous position.
    • Most firms are small, but are linked into networks in which a few large corporations (systems houses) occupy key positions.
  • 2.2Hold (a position or job): a very different job from any that he had occupied before
    More example sentences
    • There is a Manning Clark Professor at ANU who, as I understand it, simply occupies Manning's old job.
    • All the top jobs were occupied by whites before independence.
    • With Merkel now occupying the chancellery, the circle is complete.
    hold, be in, fill, have
    informal hold down
  • 4Take control of (a place, especially a country) by military conquest or settlement: Syria was occupied by France under a League of Nations mandate
    More example sentences
    • The US military will continue to occupy the country, exercising powers amounting to martial law.
    • How can you be a sovereign nation while your country is occupied by the military of another nation?
    • In the countries occupied by the Red Army at that time, vicious purges took place against religious leaders of all faiths.
  • 4.1Enter and stay in (a building) without authority and often forcibly, especially as a form of protest: the workers occupied the factory
    More example sentences
    • Workers occupied the factory in protest over the dismissal of 250 of the company's 500-strong workforce.
    • As part of their protest, workers occupied the factory roof.
    • The workers occupied the factory after a protest stoppage on January 26 in support of a 300 rupees pay increase owing to them since last year.


Middle English: formed irregularly from Old French occuper, from Latin occupare 'seize'. A now obsolete vulgar sense 'have sexual relations with' seems to have led to the general avoidance of the word in the 17th and most of the 18th century.

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