[key, kee]


a small low island; key.

Origin of cay

1700–10; < Spanish cayo; see key2
Can be confusedcay key quay Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for cay

islet, isle, ait

Examples from the Web for cay

Historical Examples of cay

  • Well, Jack, I reckon we cayn't take Dinsmore in to be hanged.

    Oh, You Tex!

    William Macleod Raine

  • We cayn't let him go back there and take our medicine for us.

    A Texas Ranger

    William MacLeod Raine

  • We went over every inch of the Cay and theres not a living soul on it.

  • To the end of the world, and over the edge—I cayn't help that.


    Roger Pocock

  • I cayn't oppress Jim in them things—I'd get so tame and weak he'd sit on my haid!


    Roger Pocock

British Dictionary definitions for cay



a small low island or bank composed of sand and coral fragments, esp in the Caribbean areaAlso called: key

Word Origin for cay

C18: from Spanish cayo, probably from Old French quai quay
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 cay

"low island," 1707, from Spanish cayo; see key (n.2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cay in Science


[kē, kā]

A small, low island composed largely of coral or sand. Also called key
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.