from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To obtain or contract for the services of; employ: engage a carpenter.
  • transitive v. To arrange for the use of; reserve: engage a room. See Synonyms at book.
  • transitive v. To pledge or promise, especially to marry.
  • transitive v. To attract and hold the attention of; engross: a hobby that engaged her for hours at a time.
  • transitive v. To win over or attract: His smile engages everyone he meets.
  • transitive v. To draw into; involve: engage a shy person in conversation.
  • transitive v. To require the use of; occupy: Studying engages most of my time.
  • transitive v. To enter or bring into conflict with: We have engaged the enemy.
  • transitive v. To interlock or cause to interlock; mesh: engage the automobile's clutch.
  • transitive v. To give or take as security.
  • intransitive v. To involve oneself or become occupied; participate: engage in conversation.
  • intransitive v. To assume an obligation; agree.
  • intransitive v. To enter into conflict or battle: The armies engaged at dawn.
  • intransitive v. To become meshed or interlocked: The gears engaged.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To engross or hold the attention of (someone); to keep busy or occupied.
  • v. To draw into conversation.
  • v. To attract, to please; (archaic) to fascinate or win over (someone).
  • v. To enter into conflict with (an enemy).
  • v. To enter into battle.
  • v. To arrange to employ or use (a worker, a space, etc).
  • v. To mesh or interlock (of machinery, especially a clutch).
  • v. To enter into (an activity), to participate (construed with in).
  • v. To guarantee or promise (to do something).
  • v. To bind through legal or moral obligation (to do something, especially to marry) (usually in passive).
  • v. To pledge, pawn (one's property); to put (something) at risk or on the line; to mortgage (houses, land).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To promise or pledge one's self; to enter into an obligation; to become bound; to warrant.
  • intransitive v. To embark in a business; to take a part; to employ or involve one's self; to devote attention and effort; to enlist.
  • intransitive v. To enter into conflict; to join battle.
  • intransitive v. To be in gear, as two cogwheels working together.
  • transitive v. To put under pledge; to pledge; to place under obligations to do or forbear doing something, as by a pledge, oath, or promise; to bind by contract or promise.
  • transitive v. To gain for service; to bring in as associate or aid; to enlist
  • transitive v. To gain over; to win and attach; to attract and hold; to draw.
  • transitive v. To employ the attention and efforts of; to occupy; to engross; to draw on.
  • transitive v. To enter into contest with; to encounter; to bring to conflict.
  • transitive v. To come into gear with.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To pledge; bind as by pledge, promise, contract, or oath; put under an obligation to do or forbear doing something; specifically, to make liable, as for a debt to a creditor; bind as surety or in betrothal: with a reflexive pronoun or (rarely) a noun or personal pronoun as object: as, nations engage themselves to each other by treaty.
  • To pawn; stake; pledge.
  • To secure for aid, employment, use, or the like; put under requisition by agreement or bargain; obtain a promise of: as, to engage one's friends in support of a cause; to engage workmen; to engage a carriage, or a supply of provisions.
  • To gain; win and attach; draw; attract and fix: as, to engage the attention.
  • To occupy; employ the attention or efforts of: as, to engage one in conversation; to be engaged in war; to engage one's self in party disputes.
  • To enter into contest with; bring into conflict; encounter in battle: as, the army engaged the enemy at ten o'clock.
  • To interlock and become entangled; entangle; involve.
  • In mech., to mesh with and interact upon; enter and act or be acted upon; interlock with, as the teeth of geared wheels with each other, or the rack and pinion in a rack-and-pinion movement.
  • To pledge one's word; promise; assume an obligation; become bound; undertake: as, a friend has engaged to supply the necessary funds.
  • To occupy one's self; be busied; take part: as, to engage in conversation; he is zealously engaged in the cause.
  • To have an encounter; begin to fight; enter into conflict.
  • In fencing, to cross weapons with an adversary, pressing against his with sufficient force to prevent any manœuver from taking one unawares. Farrow, Mil. Encyc.
  • In machinery, to mesh and interact.
  • In construction, to fasten or let into a wall for support, as to secure a column to a wall. See engaged column, under column.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. keep engaged
  • v. engage or hire for work
  • v. hire for work or assistance
  • v. consume all of one's attention or time
  • v. engage for service under a term of contract
  • v. get caught
  • v. carry on (wars, battles, or campaigns)
  • v. carry out or participate in an activity; be involved in
  • v. give to in marriage
  • v. ask to represent; of legal counsel


Middle English engagen, to pledge something as security for repayment of debt, from Old French engagier : en-, in; see en-1 + gage, pledge, of Germanic origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French engagier, from Old French engager ("to pledge, engage"), from Old Frankish *anwadjōn (“to pledge”), from Proto-Germanic *an-, *andi- + Proto-Germanic *wadjōnan (“to pledge, secure”), from Proto-Germanic *wadjō (“pledge, guarantee”), from Proto-Indo-European *wadʰ- (“to pledge, redeem a pledge; guarantee, bail”), equivalent to en- +‎ gage. Cognate with Old English anwedd ("pledge, security"), Old English weddian ("to engage, covenant, undertake"), German wetten ("to bet, wager"), Icelandic veðja ("to wager"). More at wed. (Wiktionary)


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