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What's the meaning for engage in the conversation below:

Are you engaged, Margaret?
Of course I'm not. Why do you ask, Nicholett?
I only wanted to practice my English.
Oh, I see. You want to make use of me.

Is Margaret busy doing something, or did she agreed to marry somebody?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

In this context, the meaning of engaged would most likely be #1. Nicholett would like to practice her English with Margaret, so she asks her if she is engaged or busy. Margaret's reply, "Oh, I see. You want to make use of me," confirms this interpretation.

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"make use of me" could be talking about sex, so it could be #2 – Ian Jul 15 '11 at 16:51

These days the word engaged is most often used in the sense of engaged to be married (particularly in a conversation between ladies), so Margaret's initial confusion is understandable.

But she quickly grasped the true meaning of the question.

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+1 for pointing out Margaret's confusion. – Jimi Oke Jul 15 '11 at 3:47
You didn't actually answer the question... – MrHen Jul 15 '11 at 3:55
Because @Jimi had already answered it. – pavium Jul 15 '11 at 3:56
Perhaps this answer would have been better-suited for the comment box? – Randolf Richardson Jul 15 '11 at 6:56

The word "engaged" does have both of your stated meanings in the dictionary. However, the connotation in American English of "engaged" without a qualifier after it (i.e. what the person is "engaged in") is usually "engaged to be married". In normal conversation, the word "busy" would be used instead; the first sentence of your example would more commonly be said, "are you busy with anything, Margaret?" or simply, "Are you busy, Margaret?"

You can use the word "engaged" to mean "busy" or "involved" in the context of a process or group: "He is engaged in getting the new healthcare bill repealed", means the majority of his time is consumed in this task or process. Similarly, "she's engaged with NOW" means that the "she" being referred to is a member of the National Organization of Women (a civil rights group). This second meaning is a little older and less common now, but is still seen.

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It seems that the full dialog is based on the different meaning engaged can have; the last sentence can also have two different meanings. – kiamlaluno Jul 15 '11 at 16:46

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