I. verb (laid; laying) Etymology: Middle English leyen, from Old English lecgan; akin to Old English licgan to lie — more at lie Date: before 12th century transitive verb 1. to beat or strike down with force 2. a. to put or set down <
lay your books on the table
b. to place for rest or sleep; especially bury 3. to bring forth and deposit (an egg) 4. calm, allay <
lay the dust
5. bet, wager 6. to press down giving a smooth and even surface 7. a. to dispose or spread over or on a surface <
lay track
lay plaster
b. to set in order or position <
lay a table for dinner
lay brick
c. to put (strands) in place and twist to form a rope, hawser, or cable; also to make by so doing <
lay up rope
8. a. to impose as a duty, burden, or punishment <
lay a tax
b. to put as a burden of reproach <
laid the blame on her
c. to advance as an accusation ; impute <
the disaster was laid to faulty inspection
9. to place (something immaterial) on something <
lay stress on grammar
10. prepare, contrive <
a well-laid plan
11. a. to bring against or into contact with something ; apply <
laid the watch to his ear
b. to prepare or position for action or operation <
lay a fire in the fireplace
; also to adjust (a gun) to the proper direction and elevation 12. to bring to a specified condition <
lay waste the land
13. a. assert, allege <
lay claim to an estate
b. to submit for examination and judgment <
laid her case before the commission
14. often vulgar to copulate with intransitive verb 1. to produce and deposit eggs 2. nonstandard lie I 3. wager, bet 4. dialect plan, prepare 5. a. to apply oneself vigorously <
laid to his oars
b. to proceed to a specified place or position on a ship <
lay aloft
Usage: lay has been used intransitively in the sense of “lie” since the 14th century. The practice was unremarked until around 1770; attempts to correct it have been a fixture of schoolbooks ever since. Generations of teachers and critics have succeeded in taming most literary and learned writing, but intransitive lay persists in familiar speech and is a bit more common in general prose than one might suspect. Much of the problem lies in the confusing similarity of the principal parts of the two words. Another influence may be a folk belief that lie is for people and lay is for things. Some commentators are ready to abandon the distinction, suggesting that lay is on the rise socially. But if it does rise to respectability, it is sure to do so slowly: many people have invested effort in learning to keep lie and lay distinct. Remember that even though many people do use lay for lie, others will judge you unfavorably if you do. II. noun Date: 1590 1. covert, lair 2. something (as a layer) that lies or is laid 3. a. line of action ; plan b. line of work ; occupation 4. a. terms of sale or employment ; price b. share of profit (as on a whaling voyage) paid in lieu of wages 5. a. the amount of advance of any point in a rope strand for one turn b. the nature of a fiber rope as determined by the amount of twist, the angle of the strands, and the angle of the threads in the strands 6. the way in which a thing lies or is laid in relation to something else <
the lay of the land
7. the state of one that lays eggs <
hens coming into lay
8. a. usually vulgar a partner in sexual intercourse b. usually vulgar sexual intercourse III. past of lie IV. noun Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French lai Date: 13th century 1. a simple narrative poem ; ballad 2. melody, song V. adjective Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French lai, from Late Latin laicus, from Greek laikos of the people, from laos people Date: 15th century 1. of or relating to the laity ; not ecclesiastical 2. of or relating to members of a religious house occupied with domestic or manual work <
a lay brother
3. not of a particular profession <
the lay public
; also lacking extensive knowledge of a particular subject

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lay — (l[=a]), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Laid} (l[=a]d); 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… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • lay — lay1 [lā] vt. laid, laying [ME leyen, new formation < 3d pers. sing. of earlier leggen < OE lecgan, lit., to make lie (akin to Goth lagjan, Ger legen) < pt. base of OE licgan, to LIE1] 1. to cause to come down or fall with force; knock… …   English World dictionary

  • lay — Ⅰ. lay [1] ► VERB (past and past part. laid) 1) put down, especially gently or carefully. 2) put down and set in position for use. 3) assign or place: lay the blame. 4) (lay before) present (material) for consideration and action to …   English terms dictionary

  • lay — [leɪ] verb laid PTandPP lay somebody → off phrasal verb [transitive] HUMAN RESOURCES to stop employing a worker, usually when there is not enough work for them to do: • The group plans to lay off 10% of its workforce. see also …   Financial and business terms

  • Lay — (althochdeutsch: Felsen, Klippe (ley); englisch: Laie, Lage) ist: Koblenz Lay, Stadtteil von Koblenz, Rheinland Pfalz Lay (Hilpoltstein), Ortsteil der Stadt Hilpoltstein, Landkreis Roth, Bayern Lay (Loire), französische Gemeinde im Département… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • 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… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Lay — 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. [1913 Webster] 2. Not educated or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Lay — Lay, v. i. 1. To produce and deposit eggs. [1913 Webster] 2. (Naut.) To take a position; to come or go; as, to lay forward; to lay aloft. [1913 Webster] 3. To lay a wager; to bet. [1913 Webster] {To lay about}, or {To lay about one}, to strike… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • lay — 1 vt laid, lay·ing 1: to impose as a duty, burden, or punishment lay a tax 2 a: to put forward: assert lay a claim b: to submit for examination and determination …   Law dictionary

  • Lay — may refer to: *Lay person, any person who is not a member of the clergy. *Lai, a 13th or 14th century northern European song. *Kenneth Lay (1942–2006), U.S. businessman, former CEO of Enron. *Benjamin Lay (1681 1760), English Quaker and… …   Wikipedia

  • lay — lay, lie These two words cause confusion even to native speakers of English because their meanings are related and their forms overlap. Lay is a transitive verb, i.e. it takes an object, and means ‘to place on a surface, to cause to rest on… …   Modern English usage

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