- The definition of lay is the position in which something lies.
An example of lay is the way that a plateau is situated on the landscape.
- Lay is defined as to put or set something down or to produce and deposit something.
- An example of lay is to place a plate on the table.
- An example of lay is a hen producing eggs.
A quail will lay eggs.
lay definition by Webster's New World
- to cause to come down or fall with force; knock down, as from an erect position: a blow laid him low
- to cause to lie; place or put so as to be in a resting or recumbent position; deposit: often with on or in: lay the pen on the desk
- to put down or place (bricks, carpeting, etc.) in the correct position or way for a specific purpose
- to cause to be situated in a particular place or condition: the scene is laid in France
- to establish or prepare as a basis or for use: to lay the groundwork
- to arrange the fuel in a fireplace for (a fire)
- to place; put; set: esp. of something abstract: to lay emphasis on accuracy
- to produce and deposit (an egg or eggs)
- to cause to subside or settle: lay the dust
- to allay, suppress, overcome, or appease: to lay a ghost, lay one's fears
- to press or smooth down: to lay the nap of cloth
- to bet (a specified sum, etc.)
- to impose or place (a tax, penalty, etc. on or upon)
- to work out; devise: to lay plans
- to prepare (a table) for a meal; set with silverware, plates, etc.
- to advance, present, or assert: to lay claim to property, to lay a matter before the voters
- to attribute; ascribe; charge; impute: to lay the blame on someone
- to arrange and twist together (strands) so as to form (rope, yarn, etc.)
- ☆ Slang to have sexual intercourse with
- Mil. to aim (a gun) by adjusting its direction and elevation
Origin: Middle English leyen, new formation ; from 3d person; personal (grammar) singular of earlier leggen ; from Old English lecgan, literally , to make lie (akin to Gothic lagjan, German legen) ; from past tense base of Old English licgan, to lie
- to lay an egg or eggs
- to bet; wager
- to lie; recline: a dialectal or substandard usage
- Dialectal to get ready; plan: laying to rob a store
- Naut. to go; proceed: all hands, lay aft to the fantail!
- the way or position in which something is situated or arranged: the lay of the land
- ☆ a share in the profits of some enterprise, esp. of a whaling expedition
- the direction or amount of twist of the strands of a rope, cable, etc.
- ☆ Informal terms of employment, a sale, etc.
- ☆ Slang
- an instance of sexual intercourse
- a person regarded as a sexual partner
- Chiefly Brit., Slang one's occupation, esp. as a criminal
- of or consisting of the laity, or ordinary people, as distinguished from the clergy
- not belonging to or connected with a given profession; nonprofessional: a legal handbook for lay readers
Origin: Middle English lai ; from Old French ; from Ecclesiastical Late Latin laicus, lay, not priestly ; from Classical Greek laikos ; from laos, the people
- a short poem, esp. a narrative poem, orig. for singing as by a medieval minstrel
- Obsolete a song or melody
Origin: Middle English lai ; from Old French ; from Breton an unverified form laid, song, akin to Irish laod
lay definition by American Heritage Dictionary
verb laid laid , lay·ing, lays verb, transitive
- To cause to lie down: lay a child in its crib.
- a. To place in or bring to a particular position: lay the cloth over the painting.b. To bury.
- To cause to be in a particular condition: The remark laid him open to criticism.
- To put or set down: lay new railroad track.
- To produce and deposit: lay eggs.
- To cause to subside; calm or allay: “chas'd the clouds … and laid the winds” (John Milton).
- To put up to or against: lay an ear to the door.
- To put forward as a reproach or an accusation: They laid the blame on us.
- To put or set in order or readiness for use: lay the table for lunch.
- To devise; contrive: lay plans.
- To spread over a surface: lay paint on a canvas.
- To place or give (importance): lay stress on clarity of expression.
- To impose as a burden or punishment: lay a penalty upon the offender.
- To present for examination: lay a case before a committee.
- To put forward as a demand or an assertion: laid claim to the estate.
- Games To place (a bet); wager.
- To aim (a gun or cannon).
- a. To place together (strands) to be twisted into rope.b. To make in this manner: lay up cable.
- Vulgar Slang To have sexual intercourse with.
- To produce and deposit eggs.
- To bet; wager.
- Nonstandard To lie.
- To engage energetically in an action.
- Nautical To put oneself into the position indicated.
- a. The direction the strands of a rope or cable are twisted in: a left lay.b. The amount of such twist.
- The state of one that lays eggs: a hen coming into lay.
- Vulgar Slang a. Sexual intercourse.b. A partner in sexual intercourse.
Origin: Middle English leien, from Old English lecgan; see legh- in Indo-European roots.Usage Note: Lay (“to put, place, or prepare”) and lie (“to recline or be situated”) have been confused for centuries; evidence exists that lay has been used to mean “lie” since the 1300s. Why? First, there are two lays. One is the base form of the verb lay, and the other is the past tense of lie. Second, lay was once used with a reflexive pronoun to mean “lie” and survives in the familiar line from the child's prayer Now I lay me down to sleep; lay me down is easily shortened to lay down. Third, lay down, as in She lay down on the sofa sounds the same as laid down, as in I laid down the law to the kids. • Lay and lie are most easily distinguished by usage. Lay is a transitive verb and takes a direct object. Lay and its principal parts (laid, laying) are correctly used in the following examples: He laid (not lay) the newspaper on the table. The table was laid for four. Lie is an intransitive verb and cannot take an object. Lie and its principal parts (lay, lain, lying) are correctly used in the following examples: She often lies (not lays) down after lunch. When I lay (not laid) down, I fell asleep. The rubbish had lain (not laid) there a week. I was lying (not laying) in bed when he called. • There are a few exceptions to these rules. The phrasal verb lay for and the nautical use of lay, as in lay at anchor, though intransitive, are standard.
- Of, relating to, or involving the laity: a lay preacher.
- Not of or belonging to a particular profession; nonprofessional: a lay opinion as to the seriousness of the disease.
Origin: Middle English, from Old French lai, from Late Latin lāicus, from Greek lāikos, of the people, from lāos, the people.
- A narrative poem, such as one sung by medieval minstrels; a ballad.
- A song; a tune.
Origin: Middle English, from Old French lai.
lay - Phrases/Idioms
lay about one
lay a course
- Naut. to proceed in a certain direction without the need for tacking
- to make plans to do something
- to put to one side; lay out of the way
- to save; lay away
- to set aside for future use; save
- â to set (merchandise) aside for future delivery
- â to bury: usually in the passive
- to save; lay away
- â to cultivate (a crop) for the last time
- to harvest and store (a crop or crops)
- to sacrifice or give up (one's life)
- to assert or declare emphatically
- to bet; wager
- to store away, as wine in a cellar
- to attack and hit repeatedly; beat
- to attack with words; scold
lay it on (thick)Informal
- to exaggerate
- to express praise effusively
- to put (a garment, etc.) aside
- â to put (an employee) out of work, esp. temporarily
- to mark off the boundaries of
- â Slang
- to cease
- to stop criticizing, teasing, etc.
- to stop for a rest
- Slang to transfer part of (a bet) to another bookmaker so as to minimize risk: said of a bookmaker
- to spread on
- to attack with force; strike repeatedly
lay oneself open
- to open up; cut open
- to expose; uncover
- to spend
- to arrange according to a plan
- to spread out (clothes, equipment, etc.) ready for wear, inspection, etc.
- to make (a corpse) ready for burial and for viewing, as at a wake
- Slang to knock down or make unconscious
- Slang to scold or censure (someone)
lay something on someoneSlang
- to tell something to someone
- to give something to someone
- to attribute to; credit to or blame on
- to apply oneself with vigor
- to check a ship's forward motion, esp. by bringing the bow into the wind
- to lie more or less stationary with the bow to the wind: now usually lie to
lay to rest
- to store for future use; hoard
- to disable; confine to bed or the sickroom laid up with the flu
- to take (a ship) out of operation, as by putting into a dry dock for repairs
lay down the law
lay it on thick
- To exaggerate; overstate.
- To flatter effusively.
lay of the land
Variant of lie
- to be or put oneself in a reclining position along a relatively horizontal surface: often with down
- to be in a more or less horizontal position on some supporting surface: said of inanimate things
- to be or remain in a specified condition: motives that lie hidden
- to be situated: Canada lies to the north
- to extend; stretch: the road that lies before us
- to be; exist; be found: the love that lies in her eyes
- to be buried or entombed
- Archaic to stay overnight or for a short while; lodge
- Archaic to have sexual intercourse (with)
- Law to be maintainable or admissible: an action that will not lie
Origin: Middle English lien ; from 2d and amp; 3d person; personal (grammar) singular of earlier liggen ; from Old English licgan, to lie, akin to German liegen ; from Indo-European base an unverified form legh-, to lie, lay oneself down from source Classical Latin lectus and amp; Classical Greek lēchos, bed, lōchos, lair
- the way in which something is situated or arranged; lay
- an animal's lair or resting place
- Brit. a period of resting
- Golf the relative situation of a ball with reference to the advantage it offers the player: a good lie