ply 2 (plī)
v. plied (plīd), ply·ing, plies (plīz)
1. To use diligently; wield: ply a knitting needle.
2. To engage in diligently; practice: plied the carpenter's trade. See Synonyms at handle.
3. To traverse or sail over regularly: Trading ships plied the routes between coastal ports.
4. To continue offering something to (someone); ensure that (someone) is abundantly served: plied their guests with excellent food.
5. To ask questions or make requests of (someone) insistently.
1. To traverse a route or course regularly: The boat plies between the islands on a weekly schedule.
2. To perform or work diligently or regularly: plied at the weaver's trade for 20 years.
3. Nautical To work against the wind by a zigzag course; tack.
[Middle English plien, from applien, to apply; see APPLY.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.