To bring into contact with something; put on: applied glue sparingly to the paper. To put to or adapt for a special use: applies all her money to her mortgage. To put into action: applied the brakes. To engage (oneself) in a task with close attention or persistence: applied myself to my studies. To be pertinent or relevant: a rule that applies to everyone. To request or seek assistance, employment, or admission: applied for unemployment benefits; will apply to college next year.