Main definitions of supply in English

: supply1supply2



  • 1Make (something needed or wanted) available to someone; provide.

    ‘the farm supplies apples to cider makers’
    • ‘The company employs local people and ingredients for the products are also supplied locally.’
    • ‘Bread and water are supplied free of cost to the devotees.’
    • ‘There are also huge price differences between Ireland and Spain for branded drugs supplied by the same pharmaceutical companies.’
    • ‘Buckets for daffodils are available if you can supply daffodils.’
    • ‘A special thank you also to the parents who supplied the many refreshments available on the day and who made sure that every child and parent was well looked after.’
    • ‘We supply what the consumer demands whether or not it is good for that consumer.’
    • ‘The residents could not supply all the food and potable water the soldiers needed.’
    • ‘The first to feel the effects of the slowdown in company investment were high-tech firms who supply equipment to companies.’
    • ‘I suppose that the documents were supplied in paper form, with the omitted sections blacked out.’
    • ‘Later, as a sweatshop, it had supplied clothing and blankets to hospitals.’
    • ‘A database of famous people throughout history is available to supply one or both of the birth dates for comparison.’
    • ‘The crux of the matter is the lack of information supplied by the company, analysts said.’
    • ‘The partnership can also supply crime prevention information to the elderly.’
    • ‘Horne pointed out that the test's publishers supplied the only research available on the test.’
    • ‘All of this equipment is typically supplied by different vendors.’
    • ‘At night, when the house needs more power, the utility company supplies electricity.’
    • ‘Although several vendors supply excellent equipment for gross and microscopic imaging, these are expensive and often difficult to use.’
    • ‘Today, however, no set of informants can supply all the information we seek.’
    • ‘Although the company deals mainly with the commercial sector, they will also supply green electricity to residential clients.’
    • ‘The majority are supplied directly by the manufacturers, which now stock a lot of the best kit.’
    provide, furnish, endow, serve, confer
    give, contribute, provide, furnish, donate, bestow, grant, endow, afford, impart, lay on, come up with, make available, proffer
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Provide with something needed or wanted.
      ‘make sure the workers are supplied with enough building materials’
      • ‘The Turkish prime minister supplies us with an answer when he pops up with a foreword to the catalogue, in which he turns briskly to Turkey's hopes for entry into the European Union.’
      • ‘It is as if by divine providence that I am supplied educational material just when I need it the most.’
      • ‘You could also help us by monetary contributions, or by supplying us postal stamps which we can use to send the book to more and more people.’
      • ‘The inactive passers-by will hopefully have made a contribution by supplying the police with good descriptions of the raiders.’
      • ‘Currently it supplies the Ministry of Defence in Britain and the US Central Intelligence Agency.’
      • ‘They were not advised that they risked losing their grants nor were they supplied with information or reasons for cancellations.’
      • ‘I have read his press statement, which he kindly supplied me with.’
      provide, furnish, endow, serve, confer
      give, contribute, provide, furnish, donate, bestow, grant, endow, afford, impart, lay on, come up with, make available, proffer
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Be adequate to satisfy (a requirement or demand)
      ‘the two reservoirs supply about 1% of the city's needs’
      • ‘I'm cynical of the claims that the Westmill wind farm could supply the power needs of Faringdon.’
      • ‘The nation's current work force of scientific and technological specialists is unable to supply the pressing demand.’
      • ‘There is no slow-down in Tubbercurry for new houses and builders can't build them quick enough to supply the demand.’
      • ‘The current pipe work cannot supply the calculated demand with the minimum working pressure at each house for most of the members.’
      • ‘It works against the local producers trying to supply local needs.’
      • ‘One wind turbine can supply the electricity needs of more than 650 homes and cuts the amount of harmful greenhouse gases in the environment.’
      • ‘The government has enough to supply the needs of the American public.’
      • ‘Both the gas tungsten arc and the gas metal arc processes supply this requirement.’
      • ‘In the last three years there has been a 30 per cent increase in potting efforts, with virtually the entire local fleet now supplying the demand of processors in France, Spain and Ireland.’
      • ‘The company's portfolio is now the biggest in the UK and is capable of supplying the needs of more than 100,000 homes.’
      • ‘They produce a top-quality product for which there is a niche market and it is great the local people can supply this special demand.’
      • ‘A proposed wind farm consisting of ten wind turbines will supply the electricity needs of more than 20,000 homes.’
      • ‘The refinery supplies about 15 percent of South Africa's fuel requirements.’
      • ‘By 1943, the crisis in depleted fuel reserves was such that only three weeks' worth of coal was left to supply the nation's needs.’
      • ‘After that time, civil unrest outstripped the ability of smiths to supply the demand.’
      • ‘It is supplying the milk requirements of more than 90 processors and manufacturers in the region.’
      • ‘My only question is, are there enough coffee farmers using sustainable practices to supply this new demand?’
      • ‘What's going on here is a seemingly great solution for supplying a demand.’
      • ‘Three thousand donations are required weekly to supply the demand.’
      • ‘Large gardens can accommodate several lemon trees, but a single tree will probably supply the needs of an average family.’
      satisfy, meet, fulfil, fill, be adequate for, cater for
      View synonyms
  • 2archaic Take over (a vacant place or role)

    ‘when she died, no one could supply her place’
    • ‘What is there in heaven that supplies its place?’


  • 1A stock or amount of something supplied or available for use.

    ‘a farm with good water supply’
    ‘the demand for tickets greatly exceeds the supply’
    • ‘Many large municipal drinking water supplies are fluoridated to an optimal level of 1 part per million (ppm).’
    • ‘There they dried off and set about to use their fishing net to replenish their dwindling food supply.’
    • ‘Similarly, we can see the world's oil supply being exhausted too.’
    • ‘Since the third day of the war the city's electricity supply has been out of action.’
    • ‘While we never felt cheated in any way, it was slightly alarming how quickly our money supply dwindled.’
    • ‘Yesterday my neighbours made an extra trip to the supermarket, stocking up on extra supplies of bottled water and canned food, ‘just in case the worst happens’.’
    • ‘He added that while the store had ordered extra supplies of bottled water, he had not seen any other unusual related sales trends.’
    • ‘The crowd around the medical supplies dwindled again as I made my stand.’
    • ‘In addition, there is an endless supply of very cheap labour.’
    • ‘In addition, agglomeration forces are generally associated with an abundant supply of skilled labor.’
    • ‘Muscle is probably spared the harmful effects of substances injected into it because of its abundant blood supply.’
    • ‘What she witnessed convinced her that the poor were being manipulated into producing an endless supply of cheap labour.’
    • ‘On the one hand, they must secure a plentiful supply of food from the ocean.’
    • ‘Your body actually runs well on a steady fuel supply throughout the day.’
    • ‘The future looked dismal due to the lack of spare tires and a dwindling oxygen supply.’
    • ‘Historically, surface water has been available for water supplies.’
    • ‘It would depend on the supply of stocks available and how many targets they have to hit.’
    • ‘There are other ways of managing the labour supply.’
    • ‘The US presently consumes more than 80 percent of the world's supply of these drugs.’
    • ‘Local residents have expressed fears that the mudslide could affect water supplies and fish stocks, and could also threaten homes.’
    stock, store, reserve, reservoir, stockpile, heap, pile, mass, hoard, cache, collection, storehouse, repository
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[mass noun]The action of providing what is needed or wanted.
      ‘the deal involved the supply of forty fighter aircraft’
      • ‘ScottishPower is involved in electricity production and supply in both the UK and the US.’
      • ‘Risks associated with power supply would be mitigated through technical assistance contracts and commercial insurance coverage.’
      • ‘Healthy fetal growth and development depend on a steady supply of nutrients from mother to fetus.’
      • ‘Apart from guaranteeing adequate food supply, agriculture would sustain several food processing industries.’
      • ‘The limited energy supply to the respiratory muscles probably accounts for the fatigue after exercise.’
      • ‘Stretching increases the blood supply to the muscles and joints, which keeps the muscles supple and healthy.’
      • ‘The Federal Agriculture Minister has revealed Australia will sign a framework next week for the long-term supply of wheat to Egypt.’
      • ‘How will they deal with the issue of power supply?’
      • ‘Irrigation was provided from a saucer placed at the bottom of each pot to ensure adequate water supply.’
      • ‘Most of the weighting is for qualitative factors such as whether the quality and timeliness of supply could be assured, the effects on other parts of the firm, and so on.’
      • ‘Enron's origins were in companies involved in the production and supply of energy.’
      • ‘By 9.30 pm, the crew had arrived, changed the wires and insulation of our main line, and restored electrical supply to our home.’
      provision, providing, supplying, furnishing, dissemination, distribution, laying on, sending out, serving, accommodation
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Economics [mass noun]The amount of a good or service offered for sale.
      • ‘He believes that fewer apartments will now be built in areas with a surplus of supply.’
      • ‘We know that producers will offer more supply at a higher price than a lower price, and we know that more consumers will buy more at a lower price than a higher price.’
      • ‘Sustainable alternatives should offer both security of supply and cost benefits.’
      • ‘In the short term, at least, demand for service is far outpacing supply.’
      • ‘However, demand for assisted housing always outstripped the limited supply.’
    3. 1.3The provisions and equipment necessary for an army or for people engaged in a particular project or expedition.
      • ‘I myself had a dialogue with the wagon manufacturers and impressed upon them the necessity to expedite supplies.’
      • ‘It was a long, hard slog to the top, which took us around five hours, mainly because we were all heavily loaded up with the extra survival equipment and food supplies.’
      • ‘The runners will have to carry their own food, basic medical supplies and emergency equipment such as a compass in case they get lost.’
      • ‘There were several boxes of equipment, medical supplies, and field rations.’
      • ‘The bulk of USASOC's planning is making sure the right people with the right equipment and necessary supplies are at the right place at the right time.’
      • ‘This means my kit has supplies and equipment to handle local emergencies as well as the extremes found in the mountains and desert.’
      • ‘There are a half dozen or so documents that authorize unit personnel, equipment, and supplies for Army forces.’
      • ‘A regional army coordinates and manages the transportation of equipment and supplies within its area of responsibility.’
      • ‘Throughout the health center, locked storage space that protects supplies and equipment from the elements and camp critters is well worth the investment.’
      • ‘The huge transports bring in troops, supplies, equipment, food, water, ammunition, fuel and medicine.’
      • ‘There are too few phone lines, my medical records are in boxes, and all but the most necessary equipment and supplies are in storage.’
      • ‘The money was used for the provision of medical supplies and equipment.’
      • ‘The funds will be used to buy necessary relief/medical supplies, rebuilding materials and other items needed by the families left without homes.’
      • ‘All necessary injection equipment and supplies are provided for each client in an injection room, as well as the means for disposal.’
      • ‘That money is used mainly for plane fares, bags of oatmeal-based food supplements, camping equipment and medical supplies.’
      • ‘Following this army north was a huge train of equipment and supplies, which included weaponry, siege engines, food and wine.’
      • ‘Being mostly a merchant colony, Rancha only provided food and supplies to the two armies.’
      • ‘A cargo ship successfully docked with the international space station yesterday, delivering supplies and equipment for its US and Russian crew.’
      • ‘We demand fuel, food and the necessary supplies to carry on our journey.’
      • ‘I have a small gallery area, a space for customers to make their selections and a work room with equipment, supplies and materials.’
      provisions, stores, stocks, rations, food, food and drink, foodstuffs, eatables, subsistence, produce, necessities
      equipment, apparatus, paraphernalia, wares, trappings, stuff, tackle, things
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4[as modifier]Providing necessary goods and equipment.
      ‘a supply ship’
      • ‘A second supply ship only reached Lau on February 18, more than one month after the cyclone hit.’
      • ‘During the 1970s he spent several holidays doing locums on the tiny Orkney island of Papay Westray and serving on a supply ship during the Icelandic cod wars.’
      • ‘The supply ship HMAS Tobruk is on its way to East Timor.’
      • ‘Desert sand is hard on men and equipment and the supply lines are susceptible to guerrilla attacks.’
      • ‘He glanced up at the window in time to see the sun glint off the side of a small supply ship not more than 20 yards in front of him.’
      • ‘The supply ship is due to sail from Marchwood overnight.’
      • ‘To send equipment from one important supply depot to the other involved taking an impossibly circuitous route.’
      • ‘They all shared glances of astonishment, and sprinted around the back to loop behind the last supply ship.’
      • ‘A Royal Fleet Auxiliary supply ship en route to the Middle East has rescued 20 people from a sinking boat in the Mediterranean.’
      • ‘In the autumn of that year, he went on the Bureau of Indian Affairs supply ship North Star to Point Barrow.’
      • ‘Sparks received radio communications from the supply ship that they would be at least sixteen hours late due to high seas.’
      • ‘The Toa Maru 2 was a 7000-tonne supply ship built in 1938 at Nagasaki.’
      • ‘In July 1971 the family flew from London to Copenhagen, where they joined the annual supply ship to northwest Greenland.’
      • ‘Military planes have dropped food in some areas and the first Indian Navy supply ship arrived only yesterday.’
      • ‘Was there going to be a pause in the offensive or merely a necessary strengthening of the supply lines before the next stage of action?’
      • ‘There should be no question that NASA will build a Lunar supply ship as part of the CEV development process.’
      • ‘Jack pointed to the supply ship in formation between the Constitution and the Adirondack.’
      • ‘That so-called red line would be reached right around the time the next supply ship is due to arrive, on Christmas Day.’
      • ‘Apart from a small team of other ice-bound colleagues, his only contact with the outside world for two years was a single visit by a supply ship.’
      • ‘All his life, Rae had watched supply ships visit Stromness as their final port of call before crossing the Atlantic.’
    5. 1.5British A grant of money by Parliament for the costs of government.
  • 2[usually as modifier] A person, especially a schoolteacher, acting as a temporary substitute for another.

    ‘a supply teacher’
    • ‘He said pay was such a problem at the college that one lecturer had resigned and become a supply teacher.’
    • ‘The interim teachers will work closely with the existing teachers to cover classes, reducing the number of temporary supply teachers the school needs.’
    • ‘After university I completed my teacher training - I was able to work as a supply teacher whenever I had a day or two off from acting.’
    • ‘A number of people contacted the paper to claim that flu cases were clogging doctors' surgeries and forcing schools to appoint supply teachers in place of ailing staff.’
    • ‘A supply teacher was told to leave a school after swearing in front of a class of eight-year-old pupils.’
    • ‘There was some concern that pupils were being taught by supply teachers but that has now been resolved.’
    • ‘Over a period of about six months, she went into 18 schools in London and the north of England as a supply teacher and secretly filmed in six of them.’
    • ‘Simon's temporary return as a supply teacher was a welcome relief, providing a long-lost focus to the cast's squabbles.’
    • ‘Under a innovative scheme launched two years ago, it employs permanent supply teachers to use for cover and has fewer on temporary contracts.’
    • ‘He said one supply teacher could work at various schools within a term and checks were for their own protection.’
    • ‘The council also has 29 long-term supply teachers whose contracts are due for renewal between now and the summer.’
    • ‘In the interim, the Board of Management and its new Chairperson are grateful for the services of a temporary teacher from the local supply teacher panel.’
    • ‘We were watching an undercover investigation into school discipline filmed by a supply teacher.’
    • ‘Despite being retired, she still works as a supply teacher so she hasn't left school completely.’
    • ‘The school had tried and failed to find a supply teacher but by the afternoon a colleague from another school had agreed to take the class.’
    • ‘I have been a supply teacher in Bradford schools for nearly three years.’
    • ‘The town's education chiefs are contacting schools in an attempt to bring in supply teachers to cover the shortfall, but say some classes are likely to be disrupted.’
    • ‘He obtained a number of short-term engagements as a supply teacher at secondary schools teaching students aged 11 to 16.’
    • ‘There is an article stating that schools in Bedfordshire are struggling to cope with the rising cost of filling classrooms with supply teachers.’
    • ‘I hope she does make the school better and not use supply teachers all the time.’
    substitute, stand-in, fill-in, locum, temporary, stopgap
    View synonyms


  • in short supply

    • Not easily obtainable; scarce.

      ‘he meant to go, but time and petrol were in short supply’
      scarce, in short supply, scant, scanty, meagre, sparse, hard to find, hard to come by, not enough, too little, insufficient, deficient, inadequate, lacking, wanting
      View synonyms
  • on supply

    • (of a schoolteacher) acting as a temporary substitute for another.

      ‘she is on supply at a school in Middlesbrough’
      • ‘Once she had graduated, Rowling worked on supply for a year, teaching French.’
      • ‘If we do have a male working here, say on supply, they don't make him feel awkward or uncomfortable, they treat him as just another colleague.’
  • supply and demand

    • The amount of a commodity, product, or service available and the desire of buyers for it, considered as factors regulating its price.

      ‘by the law of supply and demand the cost of health care will plummet’
      • ‘The price system is that which balances supply and demand for scarce goods.’
      • ‘As in all markets, a price for bank loans will emerge in credit markets through supply and demand.’
      • ‘In a free market, in similarity to other goods, the price of money is determined by supply and demand.’
      • ‘Just like any other goods or services, it should be subject to the forces of supply and demand, and pricing.’
      • ‘The main task of the ECSC was to stabilize prices and coordinate supply and demand in the coal and steel market.’
      • ‘Slight movements in supply and demand can trigger rapid fluctuations in prices.’
      • ‘The same holds true also of propositions of price theory which follow from the laws of supply and demand.’
      • ‘The only factors that can possibly influence property prices are supply and demand.’
      • ‘Others argue that in our economy, products find a price point by supply and demand.’
      • ‘We know that the law of supply and demand explains the price of a good.’


Late Middle English: from Old French soupleer, from Latin supplere fill up, from sub- from below + plere fill. The early sense of the noun was ‘assistance, relief’ (chiefly a Scots use).




Main definitions of supply in English

: supply1supply2