[verb in-ley, in-ley; noun in-ley]
See more synonyms for inlay on
verb (used with object), in·laid, in·lay·ing.
  1. to decorate (an object) with layers of fine materials set in its surface: to inlay a chest with lighter wood.
  2. to insert or apply (layers of fine materials) in the surface of an object: to inlay marble in a tabletop.
  3. Horticulture. to place (a fitted scion) into a prepared stock, as in a method of grafting.
  1. inlaid work.
  2. a layer of fine material inserted in something else, especially for ornament.
  3. a design or decoration made by inlaying.
  4. Dentistry. a filling of metal, porcelain, or the like, that is first shaped to fit a cavity and then cemented into it.
  5. Horticulture. inlay graft.
  6. the act or process of inlaying.

Origin of inlay

First recorded in 1590–1600; in-1 + lay1
Related formsin·lay·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for inlay

decorate, trim, veneer, inset, tessellate

Examples from the Web for inlay

Historical Examples of inlay

  • With illustrations and inlay cover picture by Harrison Fisher.

  • Closely related to patchwork, but not as commonly used, is “inlay.”


    Marie D. Webster

  • Further, they often patch together pieces of this kind of inlay.

    Art in Needlework

    Lewis F. Day

  • This is actually done with the working drawing by the inlay cutter.

  • With illustrations in colors, and inlay cover by George Wright.

    Fair Margaret

    Francis Marion Crawford

British Dictionary definitions for inlay


verb (ɪnˈleɪ) -lays, -laying or -laid (tr)
  1. to decorate (an article, esp of furniture, or a surface) by inserting pieces of wood, ivory, etc, into prepared slots in the surface
noun (ˈɪnˌleɪ)
  1. dentistry a filling, made of gold, porcelain, etc, inserted into a cavity and held in position by cement
  2. decoration made by inlaying
  3. an inlaid article, surface, etc
Derived Formsinlayer, noun
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 inlay

1590s (v.), 1650s (n.), from in + lay. Related: Inlaid.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

inlay in Medicine


[ĭnlā′, ĭn-lā]
  1. A solid filling, as of gold or porcelain, fitted to a cavity in a tooth and cemented into place.
  2. A graft of bone, skin, or other tissue.
  3. An orthomechanical device inserted into a shoe.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.