pay

verb (1)
\ ˈpā \
paid\ ˈpād \ also in sense 7 payed; paying

Definition of pay

 (Entry 1 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to make due return to for services rendered or property delivered paid the pizza deliverer
b : to engage for money : hire You couldn't pay me to do that. paid a teenager to mow his lawn
2a : 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) paid a few dollars weekly into a savings account
3 : to give or forfeit in expiation or retribution pay the penalty
4a : to make compensation (see compensation sense 2) for His trouble was well paid in the end.
b : to requite according to what is deserved pay them back
5 : to give, offer, or make freely or as fitting pay attention pay your respects
6a : to return value or profit to it pays you to stay open
b : to bring in as a return an investment paying five percent
7 : to slacken (something, such as a rope) and allow to run out used with out paid out the rope as it jerked taut

intransitive verb

1 : to discharge a debt or obligation I'll pay when I have the money.
2 : to be worth the expense or effort crime doesn't pay
3 : to suffer the consequences of an act He paid for his crime.
pay one's dues
1 : to earn a right or position through experience, suffering, or hard work He's paid his dues and deserves a promotion.
2 or less commonly pay dues : pay sense intransitive 3
pay one's way or pay one's own way
: to pay one's share of expenses She took a part-time job to pay her own way through college.
pay the piper
: to bear the cost of something You have to do what they say because they are paying the piper.
pay through the nose
: to pay exorbitantly or dearly I found the perfect dress, but I had to pay through the nose for it.

pay

noun

Definition of pay (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : something paid for a purpose and especially as a salary or wage : remuneration
2a : the act or fact of paying or being paid
b : the status of being paid by an employer : employ
3 : a person viewed with respect to reliability or promptness in paying debts or bills
4a : ore or a natural deposit that yields metal and especially gold in profitable amounts
b : an oil-yielding stratum or zone

pay

adjective

Definition of pay (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : containing or leading to something precious or valuable
2 : equipped with a coin slot for receiving a fee for use a pay telephone
3 : requiring payment

pay

verb (2)
payed also paid; paying

Definition of pay (Entry 4 of 4)

transitive verb

: to coat with a waterproof composition

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Choose the Right Synonym for pay

Verb (1)

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, 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

Examples of pay in a Sentence

Noun

He has been suspended without pay pending the results of the investigation. Each pay period begins on the first of the month. Workers received a $4,000 pay increase. I took a significant pay cut when I took this job, but I think it was worth it.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

One proposed remedy for the internet is to create a sort of toll road on the Information Superhighway—to have users who want to make sure their important messages get through pay an extra charge. Popular Mechanics, "The Death of the Internet," 7 Feb. 2019 Employers are asking employees to pay more money for health care What happened in West Virginia isn’t that different from what’s happening in companies across the country. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Is employer-sponsored insurance really a good deal for workers?," 7 Feb. 2019 That didn’t pan out, suggesting that home prices have finally risen beyond what people can actually pay; wages have risen at a much slower clip than home prices. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "Housing market signaled potential future downturn in 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 Last year, more than $140 billion in tax refunds was paid out through early March, according to IRS data. Jeff Stein, The Seattle Times, "Citing hardship, hundreds of furloughed IRS workers skip returning to work," 23 Jan. 2019 Normally $900, true adventurers can pay just $700 in the PopMech Shop, leaving you with zero excuses to not hit the road. Popular Mechanics, "Get Ready to Ride This Spring with These Affordable Bikes," 23 Jan. 2019 Knowing that, the non-dominant is always paying attention to those in power and what is going on around them. Kellee Terrell, Harper's BAZAAR, "Jen McGowan's Feminist Horror Rust Creek Is Exactly What Hollywood Needs Right Now," 22 Jan. 2019 Since then, analysts have paid a lot of attention to likability. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "How did ‘likability’ become a thing for women in politics?," 18 Jan. 2019 The Dangerous Woman era may be long over, but Ari still pays homage to it in the music video. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Every Easter Egg You Missed in Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” Music Video," 18 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Amazon has come under fire from politicians including Sen. Bernie Sanders both for the pay of its warehouse employees as well as their working conditions. Jason Del Rey, Recode, "Two workers have died at an Amazon warehouse in Baltimore," 3 Nov. 2018 Through all their ups and downs, from job insecurity to dating disasters to negotiating for higher pay, the crew stays tight and their friendship is always way more important than drama of the work or relationship variety. Rachel Mosely, Seventeen, "The Stars of "The Bold Type" Talk Living Like a Boss," 16 July 2018 Hard-driving, high-earning executives are compelled by a belief, apparently fundamental to American culture, that working for pay is the most valuable purpose to which people can devote their time. Livia Gershon, Longreads, "Clocking Out," 11 July 2018 Plus, there's the perk that foreign workers don’t sue you for overtime pay. Fabiola Santiago, miamiherald, "'America First?' Not when it comes to hiring foreign workers for Trump's Mar-a-Lago," 10 July 2018 About 420,000 government employees are already working without pay, and 380,000 are on unpaid leave, according to earlier reporting by the Wall Street Journal. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Cardi B's Impassioned Government Shutdown Video Even Had Lawmakers Talking," 17 Jan. 2019 This year that power is magnified because a coming $10,000 annual pay increase for legislators is tied to the adoption of the budget before the April 1 deadline. Jimmy Vielkind, WSJ, "From Legal Pot to a Plastic Bags Ban, New York Budget to Cover More Than Just Money," 14 Jan. 2019 Government employees are out of work, or working without pay, which impacts hundreds of thousands of people. Isabella Gomez, Teen Vogue, "5 Ways the Government Shutdown Is Impacting Americans," 3 Jan. 2019 Amazon looked magnanimous in the moment, but its act was colored by months of fighting and the caveats on pay increases that came next. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "The Verge 2018 tech report card: Amazon," 27 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pay.' 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 pay

Verb (1)

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1856, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

1610, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pay

Verb (1), Noun, and Adjective

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

Verb (2)

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

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Dictionary Entries near pay

Pax Romana

pax vobiscum

paxwax

pay

Paya

payability

payable

Statistics for pay

Last Updated

13 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pay

The first known use of pay was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for pay

pay

noun

English Language Learners Definition of pay

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

pay

verb
\ ˈpā \
paid\ ˈpād \; paying

Kids Definition of pay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to give (as money) in return for services received or for something bought Pay the taxi driver. I paid for a ticket.
2 : to give money for (something owed) I have to pay the rent.
3 : to get even with She wants to pay them back for the insult.
4 : to give or offer freely pay a compliment pay attention
5 : to have a worthwhile result : be worth the effort or pains required It pays to drive carefully.
pay off
1 : to give all of what is owed It felt good to pay off a debt.
2 : to have a good result Hours of practice paid off in a successful show.
pay up
: to pay in full especially debts that are due

Other Words from pay

payer noun

pay

noun

Kids Definition of pay (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of giving money for something bought or used or for what is owed : payment
2 : salary My mother got an increase in pay.

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More from Merriam-Webster on pay

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pay

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pay

Spanish Central: Translation of pay

Nglish: Translation of pay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pay for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about pay

Comments on pay

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