Definition of employ in English:



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

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

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

    ‘I started work in the employ of a grocer and wine merchant’
    • ‘If I could be a librarian I would be in the employ of the Balfour Library at my favourite museum in the world.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It centres around a couple living in Stratord, Ontario who are both in the employ of the local Shakespeare festival.’
    • ‘However, there is a reason that people are leaving your employ.’
    • ‘Shortly after, my visitor, the one-time employee, left their employ.’
    • ‘Having finished his apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic, he had come to Australia in 1957 in the employ of the Commonwealth Government.’
    • ‘He was not in the employ of a British University.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She finally finds herself in the employ of a doctor and his pleasant wife, and moves into their luxurious London flat.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘My first and foremost function in his employ was as an instrument of fear.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In June I was told that the helpful Mr Partridge had left the employ of the council.’
    • ‘His opening weeks in the employ of the Scottish Football Association have been gently turbulent.’
    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.