Synonyms & Antonyms of pay

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 to give (someone) the sum of money owed for goods or services received
  • we need to pay the cashier and then we can leave

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2 to give what is owed for
  • you ought to pay that bill before it's overdue

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3 to hand over or use up in payment
  • rock fans were willing to pay enormous sums to get into the concert

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4 to produce as revenue
  • an investment paying six percent

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5 to provide with a paying job
  • pay someone to mow the lawn for the summer

Synonyms for pay

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Antonyms for pay



Synonyms of pay (Entry 2 of 2)

1 the money paid regularly to a person for labor or services
  • it's difficult to support two children on her pay

Synonyms for pay

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2 something (as money) that is given or received in return for goods or services
  • we should demand pay for all the overtime we're putting in

Synonyms for pay

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About pay

How is the word pay distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of pay are compensate, indemnify, recompense, reimburse, remunerate, repay, and satisfy. While all these words mean "to give money or its equivalent in return for something," pay implies the discharge of an obligation incurred.

paid their bills

When might compensate be a better fit than pay?

The words compensate and pay are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, compensate implies a making up for services rendered.

an attorney well compensated for her services

When can indemnify be used instead of pay?

Although the words indemnify and pay have much in common, indemnify implies making good a loss suffered through accident, disaster, warfare.

indemnified the families of the dead miners

When would recompense be a good substitute for pay?

The meanings of recompense and pay largely overlap; however, recompense suggests due return in amends, friendly repayment, or reward.

passengers were recompensed for the delay

When could reimburse be used to replace pay?

The synonyms reimburse and pay are sometimes interchangeable, but reimburse implies a return of money that has been spent for another's benefit.

reimbursed employees for expenses

Where would remunerate be a reasonable alternative to pay?

In some situations, the words remunerate and pay are roughly equivalent. However, 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

When is it sensible to use repay instead of pay?

While in some cases nearly identical to pay, repay stresses paying back an equivalent in kind or amount.

repay a favor with a favor

When is satisfy a more appropriate choice than pay?

While the synonyms satisfy and pay are close in meaning, satisfy implies paying a person what is required by law.

all creditors will be satisfied in full

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Time Traveler for pay

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Pay.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on pay

Nglish: Translation of pay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pay for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about pay


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