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See more synonyms for bay on Thesaurus.com
  1. a deep, prolonged howl, as of a hound on the scent.
  2. the position or stand of an animal or fugitive that is forced to turn and resist pursuers because it is no longer possible to flee (usually preceded by at or to): a stag at bay; to bring an escaped convict to bay.
  3. the situation of a person or thing that is forced actively to oppose or to succumb to some adverse condition (usually preceded by at or to).
  4. the situation of being actively opposed by an animal, person, etc., so as to be powerless to act fully (often preceded by at).
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verb (used without object)
  1. to howl, especially with a deep, prolonged sound, as a hound on the scent.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to assail with deep, prolonged howling: a troubled hound baying the moon.
  2. to bring to or to hold at bay: A dog bays its quarry.
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Origin of bay3

1250–1300; Middle English, aphetic variant of abay < Anglo-French, dialectal Old French abai barking, noun derivative of abaier to bark, from an imitative base *bay-


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for baying

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Suddenly he heard the blast of a horn close by, then the baying of hounds.

    Old Greek Folk Stories Told Anew

    Josephine Preston Peabody

  • The firing, the shouting, the baying had become more occasional.


    Benjamin Disraeli

  • The baying of the hounds brought old Simpson out to the road.

  • But nothing came, not even the baying of a hound or the note of a horn.

  • Simultaneously they rushed towards the baboons, baying savagely as they ran.

British Dictionary definitions for baying


  1. a wide semicircular indentation of a shoreline, esp between two headlands or peninsulas
  2. an extension of lowland into hills that partly surround it
  3. US an extension of prairie into woodland
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Word Origin

C14: from Old French baie, perhaps from Old French baer to gape, from Medieval Latin batāre to yawn


  1. an alcove or recess in a wall
  2. any partly enclosed compartment, as one in which hay is stored in a barn
  3. See bay window
  4. an area off a road in which vehicles may park or unload, esp one adjacent to a shop, factory, etc
  5. a compartment in an aircraft, esp one used for a specified purposethe bomb bay
  6. nautical a compartment in the forward part of a ship between decks, often used as the ship's hospital
  7. British a tracked recess in the platform of a railway station, esp one forming the terminus of a branch line
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Word Origin

C14: from Old French baee gap or recess in a wall, from baer to gape; see bay 1


  1. a deep howl or growl, esp of a hound on the scent
  2. at bay
    1. (of a person or animal) forced to turn and face attackersthe dogs held the deer at bay
    2. at a distanceto keep a disease at bay
  3. bring to bay to force into a position from which retreat is impossible
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  1. (intr) to howl (at) in deep prolonged tones
  2. (tr) to utter in a loud prolonged tone
  3. (tr) to drive to or hold at bay
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Word Origin

C13: from Old French abaiier to bark, of imitative origin


  1. Also called: bay laurel, sweet bay a small evergreen Mediterranean laurel, Laurus nobilis, with glossy aromatic leaves, used for flavouring in cooking, and small blackish berriesSee laurel (def. 1)
  2. any of various other trees with strongly aromatic leaves used in cooking, esp a member of the genera Myrica or Pimenta
  3. any of several magnoliasSee sweet bay
  4. any of certain other trees or shrubs, esp bayberry
  5. (plural) a wreath of bay leavesSee laurel (def. 6)
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Word Origin

C14: from Old French baie laurel berry, from Latin bāca berry


    1. a moderate reddish-brown colour
    2. (as adjective)a bay horse
  1. an animal of this colour, esp a horse
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Word Origin

C14: from Old French bai, from Latin badius
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for baying



"to bark or howl (at)," late 14c., from bay (n.3). Related: Bayed; baying.

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"inlet of the sea," c.1400, from Old French baie, Late Latin baia (c.640), perhaps ultimately from Iberian bahia.

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"opening in a wall," late 14c. (especially bay window, early 15c.), from Old French baee "opening, hole, gulf," noun use of fem. past participle of bayer "to gape, yawn," from Medieval Latin batare "gape," perhaps of imitative origin. It is the bay in sick-bay.

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"howl of a dog," early 14c., earlier "howling chorus raised (by hounds) when in contact with the hunted animal," c.1300, from Old French bayer, from PIE root *bai- echoic of howling (cf. Greek bauzein, Latin baubari "to bark," English bow-wow; cf. also bawl). From the hunting usage comes the transferred sense of "final encounter," and thence, on the notion of putting up an effective defense, at bay.

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"reddish-brown," usually of horses, mid-14c., from Anglo-French bai (13c.), Old French bai, from Latin badius "chestnut-brown" (used only of horses), from PIE *badyo- "yellow, brown" (cf. Old Irish buide "yellow"). Also elliptical for a horse of this color.

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laurel shrub (Laurus nobilis, source of the bay leaf), late 14c., originally only of the berry, from Old French baie (12c.) "berry, seed," from Latin baca "berry." Extension to the shrub itself is from 1520s. The leaves or sprigs were woven as wreaths for conquerors or poets. Bayberry first recorded 1570s, after the original sense had shifted.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

baying in Science


  1. A body of water partially enclosed by land but having a wide outlet to the sea. A bay is usually smaller than a gulf.
  2. A space in the cabinet of a personal computer where a storage device, such as a disk drive or CD-ROM drive, can be installed.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with baying


see at bay.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.