verb (used with object)

to convert (plant material) into hay.
to furnish (horses, cows, etc.) with hay.

verb (used without object)

to cut grass, clover, or the like, and store for use as forage.


    a roll in the hay, Slang. sexual intercourse.
    hit the hay, Informal. to go to bed: It got to be past midnight before anyone thought of hitting the hay.
    in the hay, in bed; retired, especially for the night: By ten o'clock he's in the hay.
    make hay of, to scatter in disorder; render ineffectual: The destruction of the manuscript made hay of two years of painstaking labor.
    make hay while the sun shines, to seize an opportunity when it presents itself: If you want to be a millionaire, you have to make hay while the sun shines.Also make hay.

Origin of hay

before 900; Middle English; Old English hēg; cognate with German Heu, Old Norse hey, Gothic hawi. See hew
Related formshay·ey, adjectiveun·hayed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for in the hay




  1. grass, clover, etc, cut and dried as fodder
  2. (in combination)a hayfield; a hayloft
hit the hay slang to go to bed
make hay of to throw into confusion
make hay while the sun shines to take full advantage of an opportunity
roll in the hay informal sexual intercourse or heavy petting


to cut, dry, and store (grass, clover, etc) as fodder
(tr) to feed with hay

Word Origin for hay

Old English hieg; related to Old Norse hey, Gothic hawi, Old Frisian hē, Old High German houwi; see hew





a circular figure in country dancing
a former country dance in which the dancers wove in and out of a circle

Word Origin for hay

C16: of uncertain origin



Will. 1888–1949, British music-hall comedian, who later starred in films, such as Oh, Mr Porter! (1937)
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 in the hay



"grass mown," Old English heg (Anglian), hieg, hig (West Saxon) "grass cut or mown for fodder," from Proto-Germanic *haujam (cf. Old Norse hey, Old Frisian ha, Middle Dutch hoy, German Heu, Gothic hawi "hay"), literally "that which is cut," or "that which can be mowed," from PIE *kau- "to hew, strike" (cf. Old English heawan "to cut;" see hew). Slang phrase hit the hay (pre-1880) was originally "to sleep in a barn;" hay in the general figurative sense of "bedding" (e.g. roll in the hay) is from 1903.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with in the hay


see hit the hay; make hay while the sun shines; roll in the hay; that ain't hay.

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