Definition of employ in English:



  • 1Give work to (someone) and pay them for it.

    ‘the firm employs 150 people’
    [with object and infinitive] ‘temporary staff can be employed to undertake the work’
    ‘83 percent of employed people were working in full-time jobs’
    • ‘In many Western countries there are child labour laws preventing firms from employing children under a minimum age.’
    • ‘And as tourist numbers inevitably decline, where will all the workers currently employed in the entertainment sector go?’
    • ‘The survey also showed that workers employed by private firms are paid less than workers in the public sector.’
    • ‘Today, some estimates put the figure of people directly employed in the industry at around 200.’
    • ‘Teachers employed under contract do not receive holiday or sick leave and other basic entitlements.’
    • ‘In the cities, both men and women are employed outside the home.’
    • ‘At most we are talking about perhaps 20 people employed on a full-time basis.’
    • ‘Four wardens employed by the agency were sacked in May after allegations of burglary.’
    • ‘The company now employs more people here through its various business interests than were ever employed at the Cork plant.’
    • ‘Both Joe and Audrey participated in retirement investment programs while they were employed full-time.’
    • ‘From this pool of funds, six guards are employed on a permanent basis.’
    • ‘The firm employs ten people and hires drivers when required.’
    • ‘The firm now employs seven people directly and a further 15 work at other facilities.’
    • ‘The nine-partner firm employed a large staff and offered a wide range of services.’
    • ‘As the 1990s drew to a close only half the workforce was employed on a full-time, permanent basis.’
    • ‘The requirement was that she had to be employed under a permanent contract.’
    • ‘Six months later he was made redundant by the small firm that employed him.’
    • ‘The firm employs three scientists and may take on more staff as its operations expand.’
    • ‘Most of the population is employed in agriculture and herding or works as expatriate laborers.’
    • ‘A total of 30 staff are employed by the firm at its Kendal and Lancaster offices.’
    working, in work, in employment, with a job, holding down a job, with a career
    professional, career
    earning, waged, in gainful employment, earning one's living, breadwinning
    hire, engage, recruit, take on, take into employment, secure the services of, sign up, sign, put on the payroll, enrol, appoint, commission, enlist
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    1. 1.1Keep occupied.
      ‘the newcomers are employed in developing the technology into a product’
      • ‘Henry had, early in that year, invaded France with a huge army and was happily employed burning farms and striking poses.’
      • ‘If Hannah were alive now, she would be well employed in writing appeals for animal shelters and Help the Aged.’
      • ‘Dutch experts are already employed in assessing how great the risk is to Dublin.’
      • ‘Many houses were flooded, and the villagers were busily employed in devising means to keep the water out.’
      • ‘They are employed in a variety of roles in the Glasgow bureau.’
      • ‘A large number of them are employed in activities such as stitching, packing and embroidery works.’
      • ‘Krifsha was employed in the hiring of limousines, the court heard.’
      occupy, engage, involve, keep busy, tie up
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  • 2Make use of.

    ‘the methods they have employed to collect the data’
    • ‘Well, this is a tactic often employed in the film industry.’
    • ‘Caustic soda is just a byproduct, that is usefully employed in the making of detergents.’
    • ‘The method cities employ to collect unpaid property taxes varies from one extreme to another.’
    • ‘Similar tactics are often employed against political defendants during pretrial proceedings.’
    • ‘He was familiar with the tactics Joseph alleges were employed in this case.’
    • ‘We need not look far for contemporary examples of blatant divisive methods employed by community leaders.’
    • ‘This selection method is a common practice employed by all the editors reviewed here.’
    • ‘Thus, predatory tactics are employed more frequently and across the board by large and small firms alike.’
    • ‘Gel filtration and dialysis are purification methods commonly employed for this purpose.’
    • ‘High-resolution NMR techniques are now routinely employed to study the structure of complex macromolecules in solution.’
    • ‘Not for the first time, the rhetoric of equality and brotherhood was employed in the service of unspeakable evil.’
    • ‘People use it because it works, but it's not the only communication paradigm that could be employed in an office environment.’
    • ‘A tractor had been employed in the initial stages to level the existing fields to make it fit for the cultivation of rice.’
    • ‘Statistics show that close to half of all antibiotics used are employed in agriculture.’
    • ‘Various defence strategies are commonly employed to protect people from avalanches.’
    • ‘Forecasting methods now commonly employed for this purpose rely on time-series approaches that generally ignore economic content.’
    • ‘What other methods can be employed by citizens to get the attention of the authorities?’
    • ‘A rigorous scientific method was employed to generate the target sample for the study.’
    • ‘Innovative methods already employed by individual growers will be published in a case-study report.’
    • ‘Too little fresh thinking was employed in trying to avert this war.’
    • ‘To maintain the water's clarity and purity, this wilderness area employs ingenious purification methods.’
    use, utilize, make use of, avail oneself of, put into service
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  • 1[in singular] The state of being employed for wages or a salary.

    ‘I started work in the employ of a grocer’
    • ‘He was not in the employ of a British University.’
    • ‘Years of flying around the world as a fighter pilot in the employ of the United States Navy had accustomed the man to short sleeping hours.’
    • ‘My first and foremost function in his employ was as an instrument of fear.’
    • ‘This had to do with revealing that she was secretly in the employ of the Central Intelligence Agency, using a cover employer to disguise her affiliation.’
    • ‘Having finished his apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic, he had come to Australia in 1957 in the employ of the Commonwealth Government.’
    • ‘I also just happened across this piece claiming that Christopher Columbus' real name was Giovanni Griego, and he was a known pirate in the employ of the King of Portugal.’
    • ‘If I could be a librarian I would be in the employ of the Balfour Library at my favourite museum in the world.’
    • ‘In June I was told that the helpful Mr Partridge had left the employ of the council.’
    • ‘Shortly after, my visitor, the one-time employee, left their employ.’
    • ‘She finally finds herself in the employ of a doctor and his pleasant wife, and moves into their luxurious London flat.’
    • ‘His opening weeks in the employ of the Scottish Football Association have been gently turbulent.’
    • ‘However, there is a reason that people are leaving your employ.’
    • ‘It centres around a couple living in Stratord, Ontario who are both in the employ of the local Shakespeare festival.’
    • ‘But different rules apply now that he is in the employ of the Scottish Football Association.’
    • ‘Thomas was ‘an industrious labourer’ and of ‘good character’, and worked in the employ of the local landowner.’
    1. 1.1archaic Employment.
      ‘her place of employ’
      job, post, position, situation, day job, occupation, profession, trade, livelihood, career, business, line, line of work, calling, vocation, craft, pursuit
      View synonyms


Late Middle English (formerly also as imploy): from Old French employer, based on Latin implicari be involved in or attached to, passive form of implicare (see imply). In the 16th and 17th century the word also had the senses ‘enfold, entangle’ and ‘imply’, derived directly from Latin; compare with implicate.