1

lay

verb \ ˈlā \

Definition of lay

laid play \ˈlād\; laying
transitive verb
1 :to beat or strike down with force
2 a :to put or set down
  • lay your books on the table
b :to place for rest or sleep
  • She laid the baby in his crib for a nap.
; especially :bury
3 :to bring forth and deposit (an egg)
4 :calm, allay
  • lay the dust
5 :bet, wager
6 :to press down giving a smooth and even surface
  • brushing to lay the nap
7 a :to dispose or spread over or on a surface
  • lay track
  • lay plaster
b :to set in order or position
  • lay a table for dinner
  • lay brick
c :to put (strands) in place and twist to form a rope, hawser, or cable; also :to make by putting strands in place and twisting
  • lay up rope
8 a :to impose as a duty, burden, or punishment
  • lay a tax
b :to put as a burden of reproach
  • laid the blame on her
c :to advance as an accusation :impute
  • the disaster was laid to faulty inspection
9 :to place (something immaterial) on something
  • lay stress on grammar
10 :prepare, contrive
  • a well-laid plan
11 a :to bring against or into contact with something :apply
  • laid the watch to his ear
b :to prepare or position for action or operation
  • lay a fire in the fireplace
; also :to adjust (a gun) to the proper direction and elevation
12 :to bring to a specified condition
  • lay waste the land
13 a :assert, allege
  • lay claim to an estate
b :to submit for examination and judgment
  • laid her case before the commission
14 often vulgar :to copulate with
intransitive verb
1 :to produce and deposit eggs
2 nonstandard :1lie
3 :wager, bet
4 dialect :plan, prepare
5 a :to apply oneself vigorously
  • laid to his oars
b :to proceed to a specified place or position on a ship
  • lay aloft
lay an egg
:to fail or blunder especially embarrassingly
  • The professor tried to be funny, but he laid an egg.
lay eyes on
:see, behold
  • I never laid eyes on her before today.
lay into
:to attack especially verbally
  • laid into the referee
lay on the table
1 :to remove (a parliamentary motion) from consideration indefinitely
2 British :to put (something, such as legislation) on the agenda

lay vs. lie

lay has been used intransitively in the sense of "lie"
    • lay down for a quick nap
since the 14th century. The practice was unremarked until around 1770; attempts to correct it have been a fixture of schoolbooks ever since. Generations of teachers and critics have succeeded in taming most literary and learned writing, but intransitive lay persists in familiar speech and is a bit more common in general prose than one might suspect. Much of the problem lies in the confusing similarity of the principal parts of the two words. Another influence may be a folk belief that lie is for people and lay is for things. Some commentators are ready to abandon the distinction, suggesting that lay is on the rise socially. But if it does rise to respectability, it is sure to do so slowly: many people have invested effort in learning to keep lie and lay distinct. Remember that even though many people do use lay for lie, others will judge you unfavorably if you do.


Examples of lay in a Sentence

  1. Lay the fabric carefully on the table.

  2. He laid a gentle hand on her shoulder.

  3. She laid the baby in his crib for a nap.

  4. When will they lay the foundation for the addition?

  5. lay tracks for the new railroad

  6. They laid him in his grave.

Origin and Etymology of lay

Middle English leyen, from Old English lecgan; akin to Old English licgan to lie — more at lie


2

lay

noun \ ˈlā \

Definition of lay

1 :covert, lair
2 :something (such as a layer) that lies or is laid (see 1lay)
3 a :line of action :plan
b :line of work :occupation
4 a :terms of sale or employment :price
b :share of profit (as on a whaling voyage) paid in lieu of wages
5 a :the amount of advance of any point in a rope strand for one turn
b :the nature of a fiber rope as determined by the amount of twist, the angle of the strands, and the angle of the threads in the strands
6 :the way in which a thing lies or is laid in relation to something else
  • the lay of the land
7 :the state of one that lays eggs
  • hens coming into lay
8 a vulgar :a partner in sexual intercourse
b usually vulgar :sexual intercourse

Origin and Etymology of lay

see 1lay


3

lay

Definition of lay

  • past tense of lie

4

lay

noun \ ˈlā \

Definition of lay

1 :a simple 2narrative poem :ballad
2 :melody, song

Origin and Etymology of lay

Middle English, from Anglo-French lai — see 5lay


5

lay

adjective \ ˈlā \

Definition of lay

1 :of or relating to the laity :not ecclesiastical
2 :of or relating to members of a religious house occupied with domestic or manual work
  • a lay brother
3 :not of a particular profession
  • the lay public
; also :lacking extensive knowledge of a particular subject

Examples of lay in a Sentence

  1. a science magazine written for the lay public

Origin and Etymology of lay

Middle English, from Anglo-French lai, from Late Latin laicus, from Greek laikos of the people, from laos people


LAY Defined for English Language Learners

lay

adjective

Definition of lay for English Language Learners

  • : not trained in a certain profession : not having a lot of knowledge about a certain thing

  • : belonging to a religion but not officially a priest, minister, etc.


LAY Defined for Kids

1

lay

verb \ ˈlā \

Definition of lay for Students

laid \ˈlād\; laying
1 :to put or set down
  • I laid my hat on the table.
2 :to bring down (as with force)
  • Crops were laid flat by the wind.
3 :to produce an egg
4 :bury 2
5 :to place in position on or along a surface
  • lay tracks
6 :prepare 1, arrange
  • lay a trap
7 :to bring into contact with
  • He laid the watch to his ear.
8 :to place a burden, charge, or penalty
  • lay a tax
  • He didn't know where to lay blame.
lay down
:to declare forcefully
  • lay down the law
lay eyes on
:to catch sight of :see
lay in
:to store for later use
  • They laid in supplies for the winter.
lay off
1 :to stop employing often temporarily
  • The company laid off workers.
2 :to let alone
  • Lay off the candy.
lay out
1 :to plan in detail
2 :to arrange in a particular pattern or design
  • She laid out a garden.
3 :to explain in detail
  • He laid out the reasons for his decision.
lay up
1 :to store up
2 :to disable or confine with illness or injury My ankle sprain laid me up for two weeks.

2

lay

noun

Definition of lay for Students

:the way a thing lies in relation to something else
  • the lay of the land

3

lay

Definition of lay for Students

  • past tense of lie

Law Dictionary

1

lay

transitive verb

legal Definition of lay

laid; laying
1 :to impose as a duty, burden, or punishment
  • lay a tax
2 a :to put forward :assert
  • lay a claim
b :to submit for examination and determination
  • laid a case before the commission

2

lay

legal Definition of lay



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