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verb, \ˈpā\

Definition of pay

paid play \ˈpād\ also in sense 7 payedpaying

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to make due return to for services rendered or property delivered b :  to engage for money :  hire <you couldn't pay me to do that>

  3. 2 a :  to give in return for goods or service <pay wages> b :  to discharge indebtedness for :  settle <pay a bill> c :  to make a disposal or transfer of (money)

  4. 3 :  to give or forfeit in expiation or retribution <pay the penalty>

  5. 4 a :  to make compensation for b :  to requite according to what is deserved <pay them back>

  6. 5 :  to give, offer, or make freely or as fitting <pay attention> <pay your respects>

  7. 6 a :  to return value or profit to <it pays you to stay open> b :  to bring in as a return <an investment paying five percent>

  8. 7 :  to slacken (as a rope) and allow to run out —used with out

  9. intransitive verb
  10. 1 :  to discharge a debt or obligation

  11. 2 :  to be worth the expense or effort <crime doesn't pay>

  12. 3 :  to suffer the consequences of an act

pay one's dues
  1. 1 :  to earn a right or position through experience, suffering, or hard work

  2. 2 also pay dues :  pay vi vi 3

pay one's way or pay one's own way
  1. :  to pay one's share of expenses

pay the piper
  1. :  to bear the cost of something

pay through the nose
  1. :  to pay exorbitantly or dearly

Origin of pay

Middle English, from Anglo-French paier, from Latin pacare to pacify, from pac-, pax peace

First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of pay

pay, compensate, remunerate, satisfy, reimburse, indemnify, repay, recompense mean to give money or its equivalent in return for something. pay implies the discharge of an obligation incurred <paid their bills>. compensate implies a making up for services rendered <an attorney well compensated for her services>. remunerate clearly suggests paying for services rendered and may extend to payment that is generous or not contracted for <promised to remunerate the searchers handsomely>. satisfy implies paying a person what is required by law <all creditors will be satisfied in full>. reimburse implies a return of money that has been spent for another's benefit <reimbursed employees for expenses>. indemnify implies making good a loss suffered through accident, disaster, or warfare <indemnified the families of the dead miners>. repay stresses paying back an equivalent in kind or amount <repay a favor with a favor>. recompense suggests due return in amends, friendly repayment, or reward <passengers were recompensed for the delay>.




Simple Definition of pay

  • : money received in exchange for work : money paid to someone for doing work

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of pay

  1. 1 :  something paid for a purpose and especially as a salary or wage :  remuneration

  2. 2 a :  the act or fact of paying or being paid b :  the status of being paid by an employer :  employ

  3. 3 :  a person viewed with respect to reliability or promptness in paying debts or bills

  4. 4 a :  ore or a natural deposit that yields metal and especially gold in profitable amounts b :  an oil-yielding stratum or zone

Examples of pay in a sentence

  1. He has been suspended without pay pending the results of the investigation.

  2. Each pay period begins on the first of the month.

  3. Workers received a $4,000 pay increase.

  4. I took a significant pay cut when I took this job, but I think it was worth it.

14th Century

First Known Use of pay

14th century




Definition of pay

  1. 1 :  containing or leading to something precious or valuable

  2. 2 :  equipped with a coin slot for receiving a fee for use <a pay telephone>

  3. 3 :  requiring payment


First Known Use of pay





Definition of pay

payed also paidpaying

  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to coat with a waterproof composition

Origin of pay

obsolete French peier, from Latin picare, from pic-, pix pitch — more at pitch

First Known Use: 1610

PAY Defined for Kids



verb \ˈpā\

Definition of pay for Students

paid \ˈpād\paying

  1. 1 :  to give (as money) in return for services received or for something bought <Pay the taxi driver.> <I paid for a ticket.>

  2. 2 :  to give money for (something owed) <I have to pay the rent.>

  3. 3 :  to get even with <She wants to pay them back for the insult.>

  4. 4 :  to give or offer freely <pay a compliment> <pay attention>

  5. 5 :  to have a worthwhile result :  be worth the effort or pains required <It pays to drive carefully.>

payer noun
pay off
  1. 1 :  to give all of what is owed <It felt good to pay off a debt.>

  2. 2 :  to have a good result <Hours of practice paid off in a successful show.>

pay up
  1. :  to pay in full especially debts that are due




Definition of pay for Students

  1. 1 :  the act of giving money for something bought or used or for what is owed :  payment

  2. 2 :  salary <My mother got an increase in pay.>

Seen and Heard

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a timid, meek, or unassertive person

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