verb (used without object)

to enroll, usually voluntarily, for military service: He decided to enlist in the Marines.
to enter into some cause, enterprise, etc.

verb (used with object)

to engage for military service: to enlist men for the army.
to secure (a person, services, etc.) for some cause, enterprise, etc.: They enlisted us to serve as ushers at the meeting.

Origin of enlist

First recorded in 1690–1700; en-1 + list1
Related formsen·list·er, nounpre·en·list, verbun·en·list·ed, adjective

Synonyms for enlist

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

Examples from the Web for enlist

Contemporary Examples of enlist

Historical Examples of enlist

  • Let us run away, for fear he should make us enlist in his company!

    Little Daffydowndilly

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • One of them, a carter in a smockfrock, seemed wavering and disposed to enlist.

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

  • I'm going to enlist to-morrow, and perhaps I won't get so good a chance as this!

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • Florent was never able to enlist Claude amongst his supporters.

  • He had then tried to enlist as a private, but had been rejected for the same reason.

British Dictionary definitions for enlist



to enter or persuade to enter into an engagement to serve in the armed forces
(tr) to engage or secure (a person, his services, or his support) for a venture, cause, etc
(intr foll by in) to enter into or join an enterprise, cause, etc
Derived Formsenlister, nounenlistment, noun
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 enlist

1590s, from en- (1) "make, put in" + list (n.). Possibly suggested by Dutch inlijsten "to write on a list." Related: Enlisted; enlisting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper