See also: engagé

English edit

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Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

From Middle English engagen, from Old French engagier (to pledge, engage), from Frankish *anwadjōn (to pledge), from Proto-Germanic *an-, *andi- + Proto-Germanic *wadjōną (to pledge, secure), from Proto-Germanic *wadją (pledge, guarantee), from Proto-Indo-European *wedʰ- (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.

Pronunciation edit

  • IPA(key): /ɪnˈɡeɪd͡ʒ/, /ɛnˈɡeɪd͡ʒ/
  • Audio (US):(file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪdʒ

Verb edit

engage (third-person singular simple present engages, present participle engaging, simple past and past participle engaged)

  1. To interact socially.
    1. (transitive) To engross or hold the attention of; to keep busy or occupied.
      • 1712 (date written), Alexander Pope, “Messiah. A Sacred Eclogue, in Imitation of Virgil’s Pollio.”, in The Works of Alexander Pope Esq. [], volume I, London: [] J[ohn] and P[aul] Knapton, H. Lintot, J[acob] and R[ichard] Tonson, and S. Draper, published 1751, →OCLC, page 40, lines 55–56:
        Thus ſhall mankind his guardian care engage, / The promis'd father of the future age.
    2. (transitive, intransitive) To draw into conversation.
      • 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Introductory”, in The Scarlet Letter, a Romance, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, →OCLC:
        the difficult task of engaging him in conversation
      • 2022 September 21, Christian Wolmar, “Trevelyan must 'give a damn' and engage with the railway”, in RAIL, number 966, page 45:
        Shapps refused to engage with the unions and claimed that the industrial disputes were nothing to do with him, despite controlling the purse strings.
    3. To attract, to please; (archaic) to fascinate or win over (someone).
      • 1711 July 13 (Gregorian calendar), [Joseph Addison; Richard Steele et al.], “MONDAY, July 2, 1711”, in The Spectator, number 106; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, [], volume II, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, →OCLC, page 74:
        This humanity and good nature engages every body to him, so that when he is pleasant upon any of them all his family are in a good humour, and none so much as the person whom he diverts himself with: []
        The spelling has been modernized.
  2. To interact antagonistically.
    1. (transitive) To enter into conflict with (an enemy).
      • 1698-1699, Edmund Ludlow, Memoirs
        a favourable opportunity of engaging the enemy
      • 2018 December 12, Drachinifel, 5:45 from the start, in HMAS Sydney - Legendary fights with Angry Australians[1], archived from the original on 9 December 2022:
        Having failed to become the first warship to shoot down another planet, the fleet would then engage the Italian cruiser screen the next afternoon, with Sydney not scoring any hits on its opposite numbers but managing to damage an Italian destroyer.
    2. (intransitive) To enter into battle.
  3. To interact contractually.
    1. (transitive) To arrange to employ or use (a worker, a space, etc.).
    2. (intransitive) To guarantee or promise (to do something).
    3. (transitive) To bind through legal or moral obligation (to do something, especially to marry) (usually in passive).
      They were engaged last month! They're planning to have the wedding next year.
    4. (obsolete, transitive) To pledge, pawn (one's property); to put (something) at risk or on the line; to mortgage (houses, land).
  4. To interact mechanically.
    1. To mesh or interlock (of machinery, especially a clutch).
      Whenever I engage the clutch, the car stalls out.
      • 1964 April, G. Freeman Allen, “The BRB shows traders the Liner train prototypes”, in Modern Railways, page 265:
        The Liner train wagon is a simple underframe on bogies, with coned location points that engage recesses in the container bases.
    2. (engineering, transitive) To come into gear with.
      The teeth of one cogwheel engage those of another.
  5. (intransitive) To enter into (an activity), to participate (construed with in).
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      We are engaged in a great work, a treatise on our river fortifications, perhaps? But since when did army officers afford the luxury of amanuenses in this simple republic?
  6. (transitive, obsolete) To entangle.

Antonyms edit

  • (antonym(s) of to cause to mesh or interlock): disengage

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

French edit

Pronunciation edit

Verb edit


  1. inflection of engager:
    1. first/third-person singular present indicative/subjunctive
    2. second-person singular imperative

Anagrams edit