Word of the Day : October 23, 2011


noun LAY-mun


1 : a person who is not a member of the clergy

2 : a person who does not belong to a particular profession or who is not expert in some field

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."


The Nobel laureate's book is an introduction to physics that, despite its depth and detail, remains quite accessible to the layman.

"Born on Sept. 11, 1911 … she grew up in the bucolic village of Monroeville, daughter of a self-educated lawyer and devout Methodist layman." -- From an article by Wayne Flynt in the Mobile Register, September 18, 2011

Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "Cockaigne," our Word of the Day from October 11, 2011? The answer is ...


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