Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

apply - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb     apply pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
present tense
present participleapplying
past tenseapplied
past participleapplied
Related words
  1. 1
    [intransitive] to make an official request for a job or a place in a college or university, or for permission to do or have something

    We advertised three jobs, and over 50 people applied.

    apply for:

    Students can apply for money to help with their living costs.

    apply to:

    You have to apply to the passport office for a visa.

    apply to do something:

    Bill is applying to join the fire service.

  2. 2
    [intransitive] to affect or be relevant to a particular person or thing
    apply to:

    The discount no longer applies to him, because he’s over eighteen.

  3. 3
    [transitive] to use a particular method, process, law etc
    apply something to something:

    A similar technique can be applied to the treatment of cancer.

    1. a.
      to use a particular name or word for someone or something

      In the past, unhelpful terms were often applied to children who were dyslexic.

  4. 4
    [transitive] to put a layer of something such as paint onto a surface
    apply something to something:

    Apply two coats of varnish to the table.

    Synonyms and related words
  5. 5
    [transitive] formal to use physical force in order to make something happen or work
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Open Dictionary

snap election

a general election … that is called earlier than expected

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play