winning; attractive; pleasing: an engaging smile.

Origin of engaging

First recorded in 1665–75; engage + -ing2
Related formsen·gag·ing·ly, adverben·gag·ing·ness, nounqua·si-en·gag·ing, adjectivequa·si-en·gag·ing·ly, adverbun·en·gag·ing, adjective

Synonyms for engaging



verb (used with object), en·gaged, en·gag·ing.

to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons): He engaged her in conversation.
to secure for aid, employment, use, etc.; hire: to engage a worker; to engage a room.
to attract and hold fast: The novel engaged her attention and interest.
to attract or please: His good nature engages everyone.
to bind, as by pledge, promise, contract, or oath; make liable: He engaged himself to repay his debt within a month.
to betroth (usually used in the passive): They were engaged last week.
to bring (troops) into conflict; enter into conflict with: Our army engaged the enemy.
Mechanics. to cause (gears or the like) to become interlocked; interlock with.
to attach or secure.
Obsolete. to entangle or involve.

verb (used without object), en·gaged, en·gag·ing.

to occupy oneself; become involved: to engage in business or politics.
to take employment: She engaged in her mother's business.
to pledge one's word; assume an obligation: I was unwilling to engage on such terms.
to cross weapons; enter into conflict: The armies engaged early in the morning.
Mechanics. (of gears or the like) to interlock.

Origin of engage

1515–25; < Middle French engager, Old French engagier. See en-1, gage1
Related formsen·gag·er, noun

Synonyms for engage

Antonyms for engage

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for engaging

Contemporary Examples of engaging

Historical Examples of engaging

  • "If I walk with you, they'll know I'm not engaged to Joe," she said, with engaging directness.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • In spite of its pretty entourage, too, the town is not engaging.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • The engaging little town is indeed one of nature's sanatoriums.

    In the Heart of Vosges

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • The bosom received this tribute in its most engaging manner.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • He has been in Parliament some time, you know,' returned the engaging young Barnacle.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for engaging



pleasing, charming, or winning
Derived Formsengagingly, adverbengagingness, noun


verb (mainly tr)

to secure the services of; employ
to secure for use; reserveengage a room
to involve (a person or his attention) intensely; engross; occupy
to attract (the affection) of (a person)her innocence engaged him
to draw (somebody) into conversation
(intr) to take part; participatehe engages in many sports
to promise (to do something)
(also intr) military to begin an action with (an enemy)
to bring (a mechanism) into operationhe engaged the clutch
(also intr) to undergo or cause to undergo interlocking, as of the components of a driving mechanism, such as a gear train
machinery to locate (a locking device) in its operative position or to advance (a tool) into a workpiece to commence cutting
Derived Formsengager, noun

Word Origin for engage

C15: from Old French engagier, from en- 1 + gage a pledge, see gage 1



(of a writer or artist, esp a man) morally or politically committed to some ideology
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 engaging

"interesting," 1650s (implied in engagingly), present participle adjective from engage.



early 15c., "to pledge," from Middle French engagier, from Old French en gage "under pledge," from en "make" + gage "pledge," through Frankish from Proto-Germanic *wadiare "pledge" (see wed).

It shows the common evolution of Germanic -w- to French -g-; cf. Guillaume from Wilhelm). Meaning "attract the attention of" is from 1640s; that of "employ" is from 1640s, from notion of "binding as by a pledge." Specific sense of "promise to marry" is 1610s (implied in engaged).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper