Definition of apply in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈplī/

verb (applies, applying, applied)

1 [no object] Make a formal application or request: you need to apply to the local authorities for a grant [with infinitive]: a number of people have applied to vote by proxy
More example sentences
  • I decided not to apply to vote in the recent election.
  • The electorate can apply to cast their vote at elections and the Government is now considering options to expand the scheme.
  • Any voter who wants to vote but doesn't want to go to the station in person can apply to vote by post.
1.1Put oneself forward formally as a candidate for a job: she had applied for a number of positions
More example sentences
  • And it will come as no surprise that a lot of candidates have probably applied for such position.
  • Peter emerged successful over five other candidates who had applied for the position.
  • The job will be offered to one of the 16 unsuccessful candidates who applied for the job last year.
2 [no object] Be applicable or relevant: the offer does not apply to unionized workers normal rules apply
More example sentences
  • If you then go, if you would, to the document that was given to me when I sought to find out the relevant rules that apply to lodging a group nomination.
  • By his actions he has shown that he believes the normal rules do not apply to him.
  • Check with your employer or plan administrator regarding the rules that apply to the qualified plan.
be relevant, have relevance, have a bearing, appertain, pertain, relate, concern, affect, involve, cover, deal with, touch;
be pertinent, be appropriate, be significant
3 [with object] Put or spread (something) on a surface: the sealer can be applied to new wood
More example sentences
  • An oily, fingerprint-like substance was applied to the recording surfaces of two discs.
  • Densely rendered layers of pastel, mud and paint are applied to surfaces with images referencing the elements of fire, water, air and earth.
  • To control the growth of these organisms on boats, antifouling coatings are periodically applied to their surfaces.
put on, rub in, work in, spread, smear
3.1Administer: smooth over with a cloth, applying even pressure
More example sentences
  • Where education does not prevent or correct the situation, the Coalition employs advocacy and applies additional pressure.
  • The blood stained the silken cloth as he applied pressure to the wound.
  • In recent times, going on strike to apply pressure for any grievance in favour of employees has become the in-thing.
exert, administer, implement, use, exercise, employ, utilize, bring to bear
4 (apply oneself) Give one’s full attention to a task; work hard.
Example sentences
  • The fact is girls study harder and apply themselves to tasks more.
  • He said: ‘I want head teachers to be tough with teachers within their schools to make sure that the teachers are applying themselves to their tasks.’
  • From the Eagles' perspective, the run into the finals is going to be an absorbing affair, as August is traditionally the time when players apply themselves to the task in earnest.
be diligent, be industrious, be assiduous, show commitment, show dedication;
work hard, exert oneself, make an effort, try hard, do one's best, give one's all, put one's shoulder to the wheel, put one's nose to the grindstone;
strive, endeavor, struggle, labor, toil;
pay attention, commit oneself, devote oneself;
persevere, persist
informal put one's back into it, knuckle down, buckle down, hunker down
5 [with object] Bring or put into operation or practical use: the oil industry has failed to apply appropriate standards of care
More example sentences
  • ‘The ideas and innovations which have been brought together can be applied to any home,’ she said.
  • Also, the mission must be applied to the facility operations and the camp priorities.
  • Until now, that provision has never been applied to efforts to bring terrorist criminals to justice.


Late Middle English: from Old French aplier, from Latin applicare 'fold, fasten to', from ad- 'to' + plicare 'to fold'.

Words that rhyme with apply

ally, Altai, assai, awry, ay, aye, Baha'i, belie, bi, Bligh, buy, by, bye, bye-bye, chi, Chiangmai, Ciskei, comply, cry, Cy, Dai, defy, deny, Di, die, do-or-die, dry, Dubai, dye, espy, eye, fie, fly, forbye, fry, Frye, goodbye (US goodby), guy, hereby, hi, hie, high, I, imply, I-spy, July, kai, lie, lye, Mackay, misapply, my, nearby, nigh, Nye, outfly, passer-by, phi, pi, pie, ply, pry, psi, Qinghai, rai, rely, rocaille, rye, scry, serai, shanghai, shy, sigh, sky, Skye, sky-high, sly, spin-dry, spry, spy, sty, Sukhotai, supply, Tai, Thai, thereby, thigh, thy, tie, Transkei, try, tumble-dry, underlie, Versailles, Vi, vie, whereby, why, wry, Wye, xi, Xingtai, Yantai

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ap·ply

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