1 [plahy]
verb (used with object), plied, plying.
to work with or at diligently; employ busily; use: to ply the needle.
to carry on, practice, or pursue busily or steadily: to ply a trade.
to treat with or apply to (something) repeatedly (often followed by with ): to ply a fire with fresh fuel.
to assail persistently: to ply horses with a whip.
to supply with or offer something pressingly to: to ply a person with drink.
to address (someone) persistently or importunately, as with questions, solicitations, etc.; importune.
to pass over or along (a river, stream, etc.) steadily or on a regular basis: boats that ply the Mississippi.
verb (used without object), plied, plying.
to run or travel regularly over a fixed course or between certain places, as a boat, bus, etc.
to perform one's work or office busily or steadily: to ply with the oars; to ply at a trade.

1300–50; Middle English plien, aphetic variant of aplien to apply

plyingly, adverb

2. follow, exercise. Unabridged


2 [plahy]
noun, plural plies.
a thickness or layer.
Automotive. a layer of reinforcing fabric for a tire.
a unit of yarn: single ply.
one of the sheets of veneer that are glued together to make plywood.
Informal. plywood.
bent, bias, or inclination.
verb (used with object), plied, plying.
British Dialect. to bend, fold, or mold.
verb (used without object), plied, plying.
Obsolete. to bend, incline, or yield.

1300–50; Middle English plien (v.) < Middle French plier to fold, bend, variant of ployer, Old French pleier < Latin plicāre to fold; see fold1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
ply1 (plaɪ)
vb , plies, plying, plied
1.  to carry on, pursue, or work at (a job, trade, etc)
2.  to manipulate or wield (a tool)
3.  to sell (goods, wares, etc), esp at a regular place
4.  (usually foll by with) to provide (with) or subject (to) repeatedly or persistently: he plied us with drink the whole evening; to ply a horse with a whip; he plied the speaker with questions
5.  (intr) to perform or work steadily or diligently: to ply with a spade
6.  (also intr) (esp of a ship) to travel regularly along (a route) or in (an area): to ply between Dover and Calais; to ply the trade routes
[C14 plye, short for aplye to apply]

ply2 (plaɪ)
n , pl plies
1.  a.  a layer, fold, or thickness, as of cloth, wood, yarn, etc
 b.  (in combination): four-ply
2.  a thin sheet of wood glued to other similar sheets to form plywood
3.  one of the strands twisted together to make rope, yarn, etc
4.  to twist together (two or more single strands) to make yarn
[C15: from Old French pli fold, from plier to fold, from Latin plicāre]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"work with, use," c.1300, shortened form of applien "join to, apply," from O.Fr. aplier, from L. applicare "to attach, apply," from op- "on" + plicare "to lay, fold, twist," from PIE base *plek- "to plait, twist" (cf. Gk. plekein "to plait," L. plectere "to plait, braid, intertwine," O.C.S. plesti "to
braid, plait, twist," Goth. flahta "braid"). Sense of "travel regularly" is first 1803.

"layer," 1470, from M.Fr. pli "a fold" (13c.), from O.Fr. ploi (12c.), from stem of ployer (later pleier) "to bend, to fold," from L. plicare "to fold, lay" see ply (v.)). Now mainly in plywood (1907), which is called that because the layers are so arranged that the grain of
one runs at right angles to that of the next.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Computing Dictionary

ply definition

mathematics, data
1. Of a node in a tree, the number of branches between that node and the root.
2. Of a tree, the maximum ply of any of its nodes.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Example sentences
The break may be in only one ply or it may be in all of them, but in any case
  it is always the inside ply that breaks first.
With that high-tech grace-note, a new sort of airship could soon safely ply the
  ocean blue.
Some experts consider the ship's demise a fluke-it was built to ply icy waters
  and was helmed by an experienced captain.
Engineers with earnest faces and trim haircuts ply the halls of this
  diversified energy concern.
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