the lay of the land
Lay 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. [1913 Webster]

A viol should have a lay of wire strings below. --Bacon. [1913 Webster]

Note: 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. [1913 Webster]

2. A wager. ``My fortunes against any lay worth naming.'' [1913 Webster]

3. (a) A job, price, or profit. [Prov. Eng.] --Wright. (b) 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.] [1913 Webster]

4. (Textile Manuf.) (a) A measure of yarn; a lea. See 1st {Lea} (a) . (b) The lathe of a loom. See {Lathe}, 3. [1913 Webster]

5. A plan; a scheme. [Slang] --Dickens. [1913 Webster]

{Lay figure}. (a) A jointed model of the human body that may be put in any attitude; -- used for showing the disposition of drapery, etc. (b) 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. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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