- to work with or at diligently; employ busily; use: to ply the needle.
- to carry on, practice, or pursue busily or steadily: to ply a trade.
- to treat with or apply to (something) repeatedly (often followed by with): to ply a fire with fresh fuel.
- to assail persistently: to ply horses with a whip.
- to supply with or offer something pressingly to: to ply a person with drink.
- to address (someone) persistently or importunately, as with questions, solicitations, etc.; importune.
- to pass over or along (a river, stream, etc.) steadily or on a regular basis: boats that ply the Mississippi.
- to run or travel regularly over a fixed course or between certain places, as a boat, bus, etc.
- to perform one's work or office busily or steadily: to ply with the oars; to ply at a trade.
Origin of ply1
SynonymsSee more synonyms for ply on Thesaurus.com
- British Dialect. to bend, fold, or mold.
- Obsolete. to bend, incline, or yield.
Origin of ply2
Examples from the Web for ply
OSI wanted her to ply the waitress with questions about drug sales.Spies, Lies, and Rape in the Air Force: An Undercover Agent's Story
March 4, 2014
They are more likely to pick guys who ply their trade week in, week out at the highest levels.The World Cup Ref Crisis
June 19, 2010
Cunningly did he ply his sword before them, but ineffectually.The Tavern Knight
Now is the moment to urge on the hounds and ply the javelins.The Sportsman
Use only the cutlass when you gain the parapet and ply like men.Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer
Cyrus Townsend Brady
I would that I could sit and rest, and not have to ply this heavy mallet.
The first thing to do would be to ply the scissors to the red curls.Tess of the Storm Country
Grace Miller White
- to carry on, pursue, or work at (a job, trade, etc)
- to manipulate or wield (a tool)
- to sell (goods, wares, etc), esp at a regular place
- (usually foll by with) to provide (with) or subject (to) repeatedly or persistentlyhe plied us with drink the whole evening; to ply a horse with a whip; he plied the speaker with questions
- (intr) to perform or work steadily or diligentlyto ply with a spade
- (also intr) (esp of a ship) to travel regularly along (a route) or in (an area)to ply between Dover and Calais; to ply the trade routes
- a layer, fold, or thickness, as of cloth, wood, yarn, etc
- (in combination)four-ply
- a thin sheet of wood glued to other similar sheets to form plywood
- one of the strands twisted together to make rope, yarn, etc
- to twist together (two or more single strands) to make yarn
Word Origin and History for ply
"work with, use," late 14c., shortened form of applien "join to, apply" (see apply). The core of this is Latin plicare "to lay, fold, twist," from PIE root *plek- "to plait, twist" (cf. Greek plekein "to plait, twine," plektos "twisted;" Latin plectere (past participle plexus) "to plait, braid, intertwine;" Old Church Slavonic plesti "to braid, plait, twist;" Gothic flahta "braid;" Old English fleax "cloth made with flax, linen").
Sense of "travel regularly" is first 1803, perhaps from earlier sense "steer a course" (1550s). Related: Plied; plies; plying.
"to bend," late 14c., plien, from Old French plier, earlier pleier "to fold, bend," from Latin plicare "to lay, fold, twist" (see ply (v.1)). Related: Plied; plies; plying.