Etymology
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apply (v.)

late 14c., "join or combine (with); attach (to something), adhere," 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" (from PIE root *plek- "to plait").

The etymological sense is "bring things in contact with one another." In English, from c. 1400 as "use or employ" something for a certain purpose;" from early 15c. of lotions, plasters, etc., "place in contact with the body," also, of one's mental powers or faculties, "put to work at a task or pursuit." 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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Definitions of apply

apply (v.)
put into service; make work or employ for a particular purpose or for its inherent or natural purpose;
This thinking was applied to many projects
I apply this rule to get good results
Synonyms: use / utilize / utilise / employ
apply (v.)
be pertinent or relevant or applicable;
The same laws apply to you!
Synonyms: hold / go for
apply (v.)
ask (for something);
She applied for college
apply for a job
He applied for a leave of absence
apply (v.)
apply to a surface;
She applied paint to the back of the house
Synonyms: put on
apply (v.)
be applicable to; as to an analysis;
Synonyms: lend oneself
apply (v.)
give or convey physically;
Synonyms: give
apply (v.)
avail oneself to;
apply a principle
Synonyms: practice / use
apply (v.)
ensure observance of laws and rules;
Synonyms: enforce / implement
apply (v.)
refer (a word or name) to a person or thing;
He applied this racial slur to me!
apply (v.)
apply oneself to;
Please apply yourself to your homework
From wordnet.princeton.edu