See more synonyms for employ on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to hire or engage the services of (a person or persons); provide employment for; have or keep in one's service: This factory employs thousands of people.
  2. to keep busy or at work; engage the attentions of: He employs himself by reading after work.
  3. to make use of (an instrument, means, etc.); use; apply: to employ a hammer to drive a nail.
  4. to occupy or devote (time, energies, etc.): I employ my spare time in reading. I employ all my energies in writing.
  1. employment; service: to be in someone's employ.

Origin of employ

1425–75; late Middle English employen < Anglo-French, Middle French emploierLatin implicāre to enfold (Late Latin: to engage); see implicate
Related formsde-em·ployed, adjectivenon·em·ploy·ing, adjectiveo·ver·em·ploy, verb (used with object)pre·em·ploy, verb (used with object)re·em·ploy, verb (used with object)well-em·ployed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for employ

Contemporary Examples of employ

Historical Examples of employ

  • He thought that our hero was about to beg to be taken back into his employ.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • It is only right that I should employ a portion in His service.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • How are they to employ the day, or what inducement have they to employ it, in recruiting their stock of health?

  • We shall have to employ two men to move the heavy furniture.

  • What do you imagine you could employ yourself with down there?

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for employ


verb (tr)
  1. to engage or make use of the services of (a person) in return for money; hire
  2. to provide work or occupation for; keep busy; occupycollecting stamps employs a lot of his time
  3. to use as a meansto employ secret measures to get one's ends
  1. the state of being employed (esp in the phrase in someone's employ)
Derived Formsemployable, adjectiveemployability, noun

Word Origin for employ

C15: from Old French emploier, from Latin implicāre to entangle, engage, from plicāre to fold
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for employ

early 15c., from Middle French employer, from Old French emploiier (12c.) "make use of, apply; increase; entangle; devote," from Latin implicare "enfold, involve, be connected with," from in- (see in- (2)) + plicare "to fold" (see ply (v.1)).

Sense of "hire, engage" first recorded in English 1580s, from "involve in a particular purpose," a sense which arose in Late Latin. Related: Employed; employing. The noun is 1660s, from French emploi. Imply, which is the same word, retains more of the original sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper