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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

That means they have to follow the laws that apply to private businesses.
Refusing to Marry Same-Sex Couples Isn’t Religious Freedom, It’s Just Discrimination Sally Kohn October 22, 2014

It might not apply to them, the way it is used today in Israel.
Zionism’s Been Stolen Hillel Ben Sasson March 22, 2012

But you do have to have an understanding of how some rule you make will apply to people in the real world.
A Justice Reflects Walter Isaacson June 28, 2009

The term, which is nebulous and unregulated, can apply to any wine made without very few winery manipulations.
The No Hangover Wine Jordan Salcito November 16, 2013

Develop and protect a moral sensibility and demonstrate the character to apply it.
David McCullough at Wellesley Commencement: ‘You Are Not Special’ (Video) The Daily Beast June 8, 2012

Historical Examples

You may be almost the first girl to apply, or you may be among the latest, but not the too latest.
Grace Harlowe’s Return to Overton Campus Jessie Graham Flower

If you ever want to borrow this boat, you’ll have to apply to me.
Brave and Bold Horatio Alger

This does not apply so much to designs for beds as it does to the colors we make use of in them.
Amateur Gardencraft Eben E. Rexford

He did apply, and at the end of a month, no answer had been returned to his communication.
Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, No. 327 Various

This same rule should be made to apply to those holding office.
Chicago’s Awful Theater Horror Various

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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