Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of Lay
Meaning of lay by Wiktionary Dictionary



    • enPR: lā, IPA: /leɪ/, SAMPA: /leI/
    • Rhymes: -eɪ
    • Homophone: lei, ley

    Etymology 1

    Old English lecgan, from Germanic. A causative form of lie. Cognate with Dutch leggen, German legen, Swedish lägga .


    to lay ( third-person singular simple present lays present participle laying, simple past and past participle laid )

    1. ( transitive ) To place something down in a position of rest .
    2. ( transitive, archaic ) To cause to subside or abate.
    3. ( transitive ) To leave something somewhere .
    4. ( transitive ) To prepare ( e.g., the groundwork, the table ) .
    5. ( transitive ) To install certain building materials, laying one thing on top of another .
      lay brick
      lay flooring
    6. ( transitive ) To produce and deposit an egg .
    7. ( transitive ) To wager that an event will not take place .
    8. ( transitive, slang ) To have sex with .
    Derived terms

    See also

    • Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, 1989

    Etymology 2

    From the verb .


    lay ( plural: lays )

    1. Arrangement or relationship; layout .
      ( nonstandard or colloquial ) the lay of the land ( rather than the standard the lie of the land ) .
    2. The direction a rope is twisted .
      Worm and parcel with the lay; turn and serve the other way .
    3. A casual sexual partner .
      What was I, just another lay you can toss aside as you go on to your next conquest?
    4. A ballad or sung poem .
      1805 The Lay of the Last Minstrel, Sir Walter Scott
    See WikiSaurus:promiscuous woman

    Etymology 3

    From Old French lai


    lay ( comparative more lay, superlative most lay )

    1. Non-professional, not being a member of an organized institution ( e.g. scientific lay person ).
    2. Not belonging to the clergy, but associated with them.
    Related terms

    Etymology 4

    See lie



    1. Simple past of lie when pertaining to position .
      The baby lay in its crib and slept silently .
    Derived terms

    Etymology 5

    Middle English from Old French lai ( “song, lyric, poem” ), of Germanic origin, from Frankish *laik, laih ( “play, melody, song” ) from Proto-Germanic *laikaz, *laikiz ( “jump, play, dance” ) from Proto-Indo-European *( e )laig'- ( “to jump, spring, play” ). Akin to Old High German leih ( “a play, skit, melody, song” ), Middle High German leich ( “piece of music, epic song played on a harp” ), Old English lācan ( “to move quickly, fence, sing” ) .


    lay ( plural: lays )

    1. a short song
    2. a short poem or narrative, one usually intended to be sung

    Derived terms

    See also

    1. ^ Scrap lay judge system: lay judge The Japan Times
    2. ^ WHY A LAY BROTHER? Franciscan friars


    frequency based on Project Gutenberg corpus">Most common English words: open « therefore « feet « #324: lay » along » four » wish


    • Aly

Explanation of lay by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. put into a certain place or abstract location

    2. put in a horizontal position

    3. lay the books on the table
      lay the patient carefully onto the bed
    4. lay eggs

    5. This hen doesn't lay
    6. prepare or position for action or operation

    7. lay a fire
      lay the foundation for a new health care plan
    8. impose as a duty, burden, or punishment

    9. lay a responsibility on someone
    1. not of or from a profession

    2. a lay opinion as to the cause of the disease
    3. characteristic of those who are not members of the clergy

    4. the lay ministry
    1. a narrative poem of popular origin

    2. a narrative song with a recurrent refrain

    Definition of lay by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Lathe ( lāth ), n. [OE. lathe a granary; akin to G. lade a chest, Icel. hlaða a storehouse, barn; but cf. also Icel. löð a smith's lathe. Senses 2 and 3 are perh. of the same origin as lathe a granary, the original meaning being, a frame to hold something. If so, the word is from an older form of E. lade to load. See Lade to load.]
      1. A granary; a barn. [Obs.] Chaucer.

      2. ( Mach. ) A machine for turning, that is, for shaping articles of wood, metal, or other material, by causing them to revolve while acted upon by a cutting tool.

      3. The movable swing frame of a loom, carrying the reed for separating the warp threads and beating up the weft; -- called also lay and batten.

      Blanchard lathe, a lathe for turning irregular forms after a given pattern, as lasts, gunstocks, and the like. -- Drill lathe, or Speed lathe, a small lathe which, from its high speed, is adapted for drilling; a hand lathe. -- Engine lathe, a turning lathe in which the cutting tool has an automatic feed; -- used chiefly for turning and boring metals, cutting screws, etc. -- Foot lathe, a lathe which is driven by a treadle worked by the foot. -- Geometric lathe. See under Geometric -- Hand lathe, a lathe operated by hand; a power turning lathe without an automatic feed for the tool. -- Slide lathe, an engine lathe. -- Throw lathe, a small lathe worked by one hand, while the cutting tool is held in the other.

    2. Lay imp. of Lie, to recline.

    3. Lay, a. [F. lai, L. laicus, Gr. of or from the people, lay, from , , people. Cf. Laic.]
      1. Of or pertaining to the laity, as distinct from the clergy; as, “a lay person; a lay preacher; a lay brother.”

      2. Not educated or cultivated; ignorant. [Obs.]

      3. Not belonging to, or emanating from, a particular profession; unprofessional; as, “a lay opinion regarding the nature of a disease”.

      Lay baptism ( Eccl. ), baptism administered by a lay person. F. G. Lee. -- Lay brother ( R. C. Ch. ), one received into a convent of monks under the three vows, but not in holy orders. -- Lay clerk ( Eccl. ), a layman who leads the responses of the congregation, etc., in the church service. Hook. -- Lay days ( Com. ), time allowed in a charter party for taking in and discharging cargo. McElrath. -- Lay elder. See 2d Elder, 3, note.

    4. Lay n. The laity; the common people. [Obs.]

      The learned have no more privilege than the lay. B. Jonson.

    5. Lay, n. A meadow. See Lea. [Obs.] Dryden.

    6. Lay, n. [OF. lei faith, law, F. loi law. See Legal.]
      1. Faith; creed; religious profession. [Obs.]

      Of the sect to which that he was born

      He kept his lay, to which that he was sworn. Chaucer.

      2. A law. [Obs.] “Many goodly lays.” Spenser.

      3. An obligation; a vow. [Obs.]

      They bound themselves by a sacred lay and oath. Holland.

    7. Lay a. [OF. lai, lais, prob. of Celtic origin; cf. Ir. laoi, laoidh, song, poem, OIr. laoidh poem, verse; but cf. also AS. lāc play, sport, G. leich a sort of poem ( cf. Lake to sport ). ]
      1. A song; a simple lyrical poem; a ballad. Spenser. Sir W. Scott.

      2. A melody; any musical utterance.

      The throstle cock made eke his lay. Chaucer.

    8. Lay ( lā ), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Laid ( lād ); p. pr. & vb. n. Laying.] [OE. leggen, AS. lecgan, causative, fr. licgan to lie; akin to D. leggen, G. legen, Icel. leggja, Goth. lagjan. See Lie to be prostrate.]
      1. To cause to lie down, to be prostrate, or to lie against something; to put or set down; to deposit; as, “to lay a book on the table; to lay a body in the grave; a shower lays the dust.”

      A stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den. Dan. vi. 17.

      Soft on the flowery herb I found me laid. Milton.

      2. To place in position; to establish firmly; to arrange with regularity; to dispose in ranks or tiers; as, “to lay a corner stone; to lay bricks in a wall; to lay the covers on a table.”

      3. To prepare; to make ready; to contrive; to provide; as, “to lay a snare, an ambush, or a plan”.

      4. To spread on a surface; as, “to lay plaster or paint”.

      5. To cause to be still; to calm; to allay; to suppress; to exorcise, as an evil spirit.

      After a tempest when the winds are laid. Waller.

      6. To cause to lie dead or dying.

      Brave Cæneus laid Ortygius on the plain,

      The victor Cæneus was by Turnus slain. Dryden.

      7. To deposit, as a wager; to stake; to risk.

      I dare lay mine honor

      He will remain so. Shak.

      8. To bring forth and deposit; as, “to lay eggs”.

      9. To apply; to put.

      She layeth her hands to the spindle. Prov. xxxi. 19.

      10. To impose, as a burden, suffering, or punishment; to assess, as a tax; as, “to lay a tax on land”.

      The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Is. liii. 6.

      11. To impute; to charge; to allege.

      God layeth not folly to them. Job xxiv. 12.

      Lay the fault on us. Shak.

      12. To impose, as a command or a duty; as, “to lay commands on one”.

      13. To present or offer; as, “to lay an indictment in a particular county; to lay a scheme before one.”

      14. ( Law ) To state; to allege; as, “to lay the venue”. Bouvier.

      15. ( Mil. ) To point; to aim; as, “to lay a gun”.

      16. ( Rope Making ) To put the strands of ( a rope, a cable, etc. ) in their proper places and twist or unite them; as, “to lay a cable or rope”.

      17. ( Print. ) To place and arrange ( pages ) for a form upon the imposing stone. To place ( new type ) properly in the cases.

      To lay asleep, to put sleep; to make unobservant or careless. Bacon. -- To lay bare, to make bare; to strip.

      And laid those proud roofs bare to summer's rain. Byron.

      -- To lay before, to present to; to submit for consideration; as, “the papers are laid before Congress”. -- To lay by. To save. To discard.

      Let brave spirits . . . not be laid by. Bacon.

      -- To lay by the heels, to put in the stocks. Shak. -- To lay down. To stake as a wager. To yield; to relinquish; to surrender; as, “to lay down one's life; to lay down one's arms”. To assert or advance, as a proposition or principle. -- To lay forth. To extend at length; ( reflexively ) to exert one's self; to expatiate. [Obs.] To lay out ( as a corpse ). [Obs.] Shak. -- To lay hands on, to seize. -- To lay hands on one's self, or To lay violent hands on one's self, to injure one's self; specif., to commit suicide. -- To lay heads together, to consult. -- To lay hold of, or To lay hold on, to seize; to catch. -- To lay in, to store; to provide. -- To lay it on, to apply without stint. Shak. -- To lay it on thick, to flatter excessively. -- To lay on, to apply with force; to inflict; as, “to lay on blows”. -- To lay on load, to lay on blows; to strike violently. [Obs. or Archaic] -- To lay one's self out, to strive earnestly.

      No selfish man will be concerned to lay out himself for the good of his country. Smalridge.

      -- To lay one's self open to, to expose one's self to, as to an accusation. -- To lay open, to open; to uncover; to expose; to reveal. -- To lay over, to spread over; to cover. -- To lay out. To expend. Macaulay. To display; to discover. To plan in detail; to arrange; as, to lay out a garden. To prepare for burial; as, “to lay out a corpse”. To exert; as, “to lay out all one's strength”. -- To lay siege to. To besiege; to encompass with an army. To beset pertinaciously. -- To lay the course ( Naut. ), to sail toward the port intended without jibing. -- To lay the land ( Naut. ), to cause it to disappear below the horizon, by sailing away from it. -- To lay to To charge upon; to impute. To apply with vigoLay ( lā ), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Laid ( lād ); p. pr. & vb. n. Laying.] [OE. leggen, AS. lecgan, causative, fr. licgan to lie; akin to D. leggen, G. legen, Icel. leggja, Goth. lagjan. See Lie to be prostrate.]
      1. To cause to lie down, to be prostrate, or to lie against something; to put or set down; to deposit; as, “to lay a book on the table; to lay a body in the grave; a shower lays the dust.”

      A stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den. Dan. vi. 17.

      Soft on the flowery herb I found me laid. Milton.

      2. To place in position; to establish firmly; to arrange with regularity; to dispose in ranks or tiers; as, “to lay a corner stone;”
    9. Lay, v. i.
      1. To produce and deposit eggs.

      2. ( Naut. ) To take a position; to come or go; as, “to lay forward; to lay aloft.”

      3. To lay a wager; to bet.

      To lay about, or To lay about one, to strike vigorously in all directions. J. H. Newman. -- To lay at, to strike or strike at. Spenser. -- To lay for, to prepare to capture or assault; to lay wait for. [Colloq.] Bp Hall. -- To lay in for, to make overtures for; to engage or secure the possession of. [Obs.] “I have laid in for these.” Dryden. -- To lay on, to strike; to beat; to attack. Shak. -- To lay out, to purpose; to plan; as, “he lays out to make a journey”.

    10. Lay n.
      1. That which lies or is laid or is conceived of as having been laid or placed in its position; a row; a stratum; a layer; as, “a lay of stone or wood”. Addison.

      A viol should have a lay of wire strings below. Bacon.

      ☞ The lay of a rope is right-handed or left-handed according to the hemp or strands are laid up. See Lay, v. t., 16. The lay of land is its topographical situation, esp. its slope and its surface features.

      2. A wager. “My fortunes against any lay worth naming.”

      3. A job, price, or profit. [Prov. Eng.] Wright. A share of the proceeds or profits of an enterprise; as, “when a man ships for a whaling voyage, he agrees for a certain lay”. [U. S.]

      4. ( Textile Manuf. ) A measure of yarn; a lea. See 1st Lea . The lathe of a loom. See Lathe, 3.

      5. A plan; a scheme. [Slang] Dickens.

      Lay figure. A jointed model of the human body that may be put in any attitude; -- used for showing the disposition of drapery, etc. A mere puppet; one who serves the will of others without independent volition. -- Lay race, that part of a lay on which the shuttle travels in weaving; -- called also shuttle race. -- the lay of the land, the general situation or state of affairs. -- to get the lay of the land, to learn the general situation or state of affairs, especially in preparation for action.

    11. Lie, v. i. [imp. Lay ( lā ); p. p. Lain ( lān ), ( Lien ( līĕn ), Obs. ); p. pr. & vb. n. Lying.] [OE. lien, liggen, AS. licgan; akin to D. liggen, OHG. ligen, licken, G. liegen, Icel. liggja, Sw. ligga, Dan. ligge, Goth. ligan, Russ. lejate, L. lectus bed, Gr. λέχος bed, λέξασθαι to lie. Cf. Lair, Law, Lay, v. t., Litter, Low, adj.]
      1. To rest extended on the ground, a bed, or any support; to be, or to put one's self, in an horizontal position, or nearly so; to be prostate; to be stretched out; -- often with down, when predicated of living creatures; as, “the book lies on the table; the snow lies on the roof; he lies in his coffin.”

      The watchful traveler . . .

      Lay down again, and closed his weary eyes. Dryden.

      2. To be situated; to occupy a certain place; as, “Ireland lies west of England; the meadows lie along the river; the ship lay in port.”

      3. To abide; to remain for a longer or shorter time; to be in a certain state or condition; as, “to lie waste; to lie fallow; to lie open; to lie hid; to lie grieving; to lie under one's displeasure; to lie at the mercy of the waves; the paper does not lie smooth on the wall.”

      4. To be or exist; to belong or pertain; to have an abiding place; to consist; -- with in.

      Envy lies between beings equal in nature, though unequal in circumstances. Collier.

      He that thinks that diversion may not lie in hard labor, forgets the early rising and hard riding of huntsmen. Locke.

      5. To lodge; to sleep.

      Whiles I was now trifling at home, I saw London, . . . where I lay one night only. Evelyn.

      Mr. Quinion lay at our house that night. Dickens.

      6. To be still or quiet, like one lying down to rest.

      The wind is loud and will not lie. Shak.

      7. ( Law ) To be sustainable; to be capable of being maintained. “An appeal lies in this case.” Parsons.

      ☞ Through ignorance or carelessness speakers and writers often confuse the forms of the two distinct verbs lay and lie. Lay is a transitive verb, and has for its preterit laid; as, he told me to lay it down, and I laid it down. Lie is intransitive, and has for its preterit lay; as, he told me to lie down, and I lay down. Some persons blunder by using laid for the preterit of lie; as, he told me to lie down, and I laid down. So persons often say incorrectly, the ship laid at anchor; they laid by during the storm; the book was laying on the shelf, etc. It is only necessary to remember, in all such cases, that laid is the preterit of lay, and not of lie.

      To lie along the shore ( Naut. ), to coast, keeping land in sight. -- To lie at the door of, to be imputable to; as, the sin, blame, etc., lies at your door. -- To lie at the heart, to be an object of affection, desire, or anxiety. Sir W. Temple. -- To lie at the mercy of, to be in the power of. -- To lie by. To remain with; to be at hand; as, “he has the manuscript lying by him”. To rest; to intermit labor; as, we lay by during the heat of the day. -- To lie hard or To lie heavy, to press or weigh; to bear hard. -- To lie in, to be in childbed; to bring forth young. -- To lie in one, to be in the power of; to belong to. “As much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Rom. xii. 18. -- To lie in the way, to be an obstacle or impediment. -- To lie in wait , to wait in concealment; to lie in ambush. -- To lie on or To lie upon. To depend on; as, “his life lies on the result”. To bear, rest, press, or weigh on. -- To lie low, to remain in concealment or inactive. [Slang] -- To lie on hand,
      To lie on one's hands, to remain unsold or unused; as, “the goods are still lying on his hands; they have too much time lying on their hands”. -- To lie on the head of, to be imputed to.

      What he gets more of her than sharp words, let it lie on my head. Shak.

      -- To lie over. To remain unpaid after the time when payment is due, as a note in bank. To be deferred to some future occasion, as a resolution in a public deliberative body. -- To lie to ( Naut. ), to stop or delay; especially, to head as near the wind as possible as being the position of greatest safety in a gale; -- said of a ship. Cf. To bring to, under Bring. -- To lie under, to be subject to; to suffer; to be oppressed by. -- To lie with. To lodge or sleep with. To have sexual intercourse with. To belong to; as, “it lies with you to make amends”.