to make use of as relevant, suitable, or pertinent:
to apply a theory to a problem.
to put to use, especially for a particular purpose:
to apply pressure to open a door.
to bring into action; use; employ:
He applied the brakes and skidded to a stop.
to use a label or other designation:
Don’t apply any such term to me.
to use for or assign to a specific purpose:
He applied a portion of his salary each week to savings.
to put into effect:
They applied the rules to new members only.
to devote or employ diligently or with close attention:
to apply one’s mind to a problem; to apply oneself to a task.
to place in contact with; lay or spread on:
to apply paint to a wall; to apply a bandage to a wound.
to bring into physical contact with or close proximity to:
to apply a match to gunpowder.
to credit to, as an account:
to apply $10 to his account at the store.
to be pertinent, suitable, or relevant:
The argument applies to the case. The theory doesn’t apply.
to make an or request; ask:
to apply for a job; to apply for a raise.
to lay or spread on:
The plastic coating is easy to apply on any surface.
to be placed or remain in contact:
This paint doesn’t apply very easily.
Contemporary Examples

“You are applying Western metrics to someone who is not using that metric against you,” referring to ISIS, Bolger said.
Pentagon Doesn’t Know How Many People It’s Killed in the ISIS War Nancy A. Youssef January 6, 2015

“There are some things you still have to go to state functionaries for like applying for a passport,” says Kareem.
Kurdish Militias Drive Out Jihadists, Bring Stability Back to Parts of Syria Jamie Dettmer November 26, 2013

The message was left for someone called “Nana,” applying for work in a factory.
Did Reporters From News of the World Impede a British Police Investigation? Charlotte Edwardes January 23, 2012

And I think a lot of people are applying a lot of stuff from the comics to it.
What’s Next for ‘Walking Dead’? Showrunner Scott Gimple On Season 5 and What Mary’s Grill Really Means Melissa Leon March 31, 2014

Keenan surmises that law enforcement, including the FBI, may be applying the same tactics in this case.
An Ivy League Tragedy John Connolly, Wendy Murphy September 12, 2009

Historical Examples

The great Luther was right in applying this saying to the church.
The Bishop’s Secret Fergus Hume

And—perhaps you’d better not say you are applying until we find out if there is a vacancy.
K Mary Roberts Rinehart

But Milton scorns the thought of applying learning to the service of material gain.
Minor Poems by Milton John Milton

Your applying, however, to Reginald can be productive only of good to all parties.
Lady Susan Jane Austen

Take care that no glair runs on to the fore-edge when applying it or when draining it off.
Practical Bookbinding Paul Adam

verb -plies, -plying, -plied
(transitive) to put to practical use; utilize; employ
(intransitive) to be relevant, useful, or appropriate
(transitive) to cause to come into contact with; put onto
(intransitive) often foll by for. to put in an application or request
(transitive) often foll by to. to devote (oneself, one’s efforts) with diligence
(transitive) to bring into operation or use: the police only applied the law to aliens
(transitive) to refer (a word, epithet, etc) to a person or thing

late 14c., “to put (one’s faculties, etc.) to some task or career,” late 14c., from Old French aploiier “apply, use, attach” (12c., Modern French appliquer), from Latin applicare “attach to, join, connect;” figuratively, “devote (oneself) to, give attention,” from ad- “to” (see ad-) + plicare “fold” (see ply (v.1)). The etymological sense is “bring things in contact with one another.” Of lotions, from early 15c. Meaning “seek a job by submitting an application for one” is from 1851. A by-form applicate is recorded from 1530s. Related: Applied; applying.


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