layman

noun
lay·​man | \ ˈlā-mən How to pronounce layman (audio) \

Definition of layman

1 : a person who is not a member of the clergy The parish council consisted of both clergy and laymen.
2 : a person who does not belong to a particular profession or who is not expert in some field For a layman, he knows a lot about the law.

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Did You Know?

Layman began its run in English as the open compound "lay man." In this context, "lay" is an adjective that can mean "belonging or relating to those not in holy orders," "not of the clergy," and "not ecclesiastical." The origins of "lay" and "layman" can be traced back through French and Late Latin to Greek laikos, meaning "of the people." Layman was originally used to distinguish between non-clerical people and the clergy, but it was soon also being used to distinguish non-professionals from professionals in a field (such as law or medicine). In a similar fashion, the collective noun "laity" originally referred to non-clerical people but came to also mean "persons not of a particular profession."

Examples of layman in a Sentence

For a layman, he knows a lot about the law. He's an important layman in his church.
Recent Examples on the Web In layman’s terms, hummingbirds can see colors outside the rainbow. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Hummingbirds Can See Colors Invisible to Humans, Study Finds," 18 June 2020 In layman’s terms that translates to: two amazing American made guitars for the price of one. Sunset Staff, Sunset Magazine, "Go Big This Father’s Day With These Splurge-Worthy Options," 17 June 2020 In layman’s terms, the acidic mine waste could leak downstream and into the greater Bristol Bay ecosystem. Popular Science, "The battle over Alaska’s Pebble Mine is about to get more dramatic," 8 June 2020 In layman’s terms, the acidic mine waste could leak downstream and into the greater Bristol Bay ecosystem. Michael R. Shea, Field & Stream, "Battle Over Pebble Mine About to Hit a Turning Point," 3 June 2020 In layman’s terms, that means he was shared with the club’s G League affiliate in Austin. Jeff Mcdonald, ExpressNews.com, "Can Drew Eubanks find a bigger role with the Spurs?," 15 Apr. 2020 In layman’s terms, a utilitarianism approach would maximize overall health by directing care toward those most likely to benefit the most from it. Austin Frakt, New York Times, "Who Should Be Saved First? Experts Offer Ethical Guidance," 24 Mar. 2020 Depending on how a piece is displayed, laymen might even be able to spot some of those details on their own. Allie Morris, ExpressNews.com, "Secrets hidden on the backs of paintings and sculptures revealed by San Antonio museum curators," 6 Mar. 2020 In layman’s terms, the mix is a screening kit for Coronavirus. Courtney King, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati company’s stock price skyrockets on news of Coronavirus outbreak," 28 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'layman.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of layman

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of layman was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Layman.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/layman. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for layman

layman

noun
How to pronounce layman (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of layman

: a person who is not a member of a particular profession
: a person who belongs to a religion but is not a priest, minister, etc.

layman

noun
lay·​man | \ ˈlā-mən How to pronounce layman (audio) \
plural laymen\ -​mən \

Kids Definition of layman

1 : a person who is not a member of the clergy
2 : a person who is not a member of a certain profession

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More from Merriam-Webster on layman

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for layman

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with layman

Spanish Central: Translation of layman

Nglish: Translation of layman for Spanish Speakers

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