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

  • transitive v. To join together, as by molding or twisting.
  • transitive v. To double over (cloth, for example).
  • n. A layer, as of doubled-over cloth or of paperboard.
  • n. One of the sheets of wood glued together to form plywood.
  • n. A layer of rubber-coated fabric, often of nylon or polyester cords, forming the body of an automobile tire.
  • n. One of the strands twisted together to make yarn, rope, or thread. Often used in combination: three-ply cord.
  • n. A bias; an inclination.
  • transitive v. To use diligently; wield: ply a knitting needle.
  • transitive v. To engage in diligently; practice: plied the carpenter's trade. See Synonyms at handle.
  • transitive v. To traverse or sail over regularly: Trading ships plied the routes between coastal ports.
  • transitive v. To continue offering something to; ensure that (another) is abundantly served: plied their guests with excellent food.
  • transitive v. To assail vigorously.
  • intransitive v. To traverse a route or course regularly: The boat plies between the islands on a weekly schedule.
  • intransitive v. To perform or work diligently or regularly: plied at the weaver's trade for 20 years.
  • intransitive v. Nautical To work against the wind by a zigzag course; tack.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A layer of material. (two-ply toilet paper)
  • n. A strand that, twisted together with other strands, makes up yarn or rope.
  • n. Plywood.
  • n. In two-player sequential games, a "half-turn", or one move made by one of the players.
  • n. State, condition.
  • v. to bend; to fold.
  • v. to flex.
  • v. To work at diligently.
  • v. To use vigorously.
  • v. To travel over regularly.
  • v. To persist in offering.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A fold; a plait; a turn or twist, as of a cord.
  • n. Bent; turn; direction; bias.
  • intransitive v. To bend; to yield.
  • intransitive v. To act, go, or work diligently and steadily; especially, to do something by repeated actions; to go back and forth.
  • intransitive v. To work to windward; to beat.
  • transitive v. To bend.
  • transitive v. To lay on closely, or in folds; to work upon steadily, or with repeated acts; to press upon; to urge importunately.
  • transitive v. To employ diligently; to use steadily.
  • transitive v. To practice or perform with diligence; to work at.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 1 To bend; mold; shape.
  • To draw: work.
  • To use or employ diligently; keep on using with diligence and persistence; apply one's self steadily to; keep busy with; toil at.
  • To practise or perform with diligence and persistence; pursue steadily: as, to ply one's trade.
  • To attack or assail briskly, repeatedly, or persistently.
  • To address with importunity or persistent solicitation; urge, or keep on urging or soliciting, as for a favor.
  • To offer with persistency or frequency; press upon for acceptance; continue to present or supply: as, to ply one with drink, or with flattery.
  • To apply; devote with persistency or perseverance.
  • To exert; acquit.
  • To bend: yield; incline.
  • To keep at work or in action; busy one's self; work steadily; be employed.
  • To proceed in haste; sally forth.
  • To go back and forth or backward and forward over the same course; especially, to run or sail regularly along the same course, or between two fixed places or ports; make more or less regular trips: as, the boats that ply on the Hudson; the steamers that ply between New York and Fall River; the stage plied between Concord and Boston: said both of the vessels or vehicles that make the trips and of those who sail or run them.
  • Nautical, to beat; tack; work to windward: as, to ply northward.
  • To offer one's services for trips or jobs, as boatmen, hackmen, carriers, etc.
  • n. A fold; a thickness: often used in composition to designate the number of thicknesses or twists of which anything is made: as, three-ply thread; three-ply carpets.
  • n. Bent; turn; direction; bias.

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

  • n. one of the strands twisted together to make yarn or rope or thread; often used in combination
  • v. wield vigorously
  • v. give what is desired or needed, especially support, food or sustenance
  • v. travel a route regularly
  • v. use diligently
  • v. join together as by twisting, weaving, or molding
  • n. (usually in combinations) one of several layers of cloth or paper or wood as in plywood
  • v. apply oneself diligently


Middle English plien, from Old French plier, alteration of pleier, from Latin plicāre, to fold; see plek- in Indo-European roots.
Middle English plien, from applien, to apply; see apply.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Middle French pli ("pleat, fold"), from plier ("bend, fold"), from Latin plico ("fold, fold together") (Wiktionary)
From Middle English plien ("bend, fold, mold"), from Middle French plier ("bend, fold"), see Etymololgy 1. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English plien, short for applien ("apply") (Wiktionary)



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