VIDEO FOR LAY

WATCH NOW: Two Nerdy Steps To Learn "Lay" vs. "Lie"

When we asked this woman the difference between lay and lie ... she couldn't answer right away. Maybe her nerdy steps to learn how to use these words will help you learn the difference between lay and lie too?

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Idioms for lay

Origin of lay

1
First recorded before 900; Middle English layen, leggen, Old English lecgan (causative of licgan “to lie”; cognate with Dutch leggen, German legen, Old Norse legja, Gothic lagjan. See lie2

SYNONYMS FOR lay

synonym study for lay

1. See put.

words often confused with lay

Lay1 and lie2 are often confused. Lay is most commonly a transitive verb and takes an object. Its forms are regular. If “place” or “put” can be substituted in a sentence, a form of lay is called for: Lay the folders on the desk. The mason is laying brick. She laid the baby in the crib. Lay also has many intransitive senses, among them “to lay eggs” ( The hens have stopped laying ), and it forms many phrasal verbs, such as lay off “to dismiss (from employment)” or “to stop annoying or teasing” and lay over “to make a stop.”
Lie, with the overall senses “to be in a horizontal position, recline” and “to rest, remain, be situated, etc.,” is intransitive and takes no object. Its forms are irregular; its past tense form is identical with the present tense or infinitive form of lay : Lie down, children. Abandoned cars were lying along the road. The dog lay in the shade and watched the kittens play. The folders have lain on the desk since yesterday.
In all but the most careful, formal speech, forms of lay are commonly heard in senses normally associated with lie. In edited written English such uses of lay are rare and are usually considered nonstandard: Lay down, children. The dog laid in the shade. Abandoned cars were laying along the road. The folders have laid on the desk since yesterday.

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH lay

1. lay , lie2 (see usage note at the current entry)2. lay off , layoff

Definition for lay (2 of 5)

lay2
[ ley ]
/ leɪ /

verb

simple past tense of lie2.

Definition for lay (3 of 5)

lay3
[ ley ]
/ leɪ /

adjective

belonging to, pertaining to, or performed by the people or laity, as distinguished from the clergy: a lay sermon.
not belonging to, connected with, or proceeding from a profession, especially the law or medicine.

Origin of lay

3
1300–50; Middle English <Middle French lai<Medieval Latin lāicuslaic

Definition for lay (4 of 5)

lay4
[ ley ]
/ leɪ /

noun

a short narrative or other poem, especially one to be sung.
a song.

Origin of lay

4
1200–50; Middle English lai<Old French, perhaps <Celtic; compare Old Irish láed, laíd metrical composition, poem, lay

Definition for lay (5 of 5)

lay5
[ ley ]
/ leɪ /

noun

(on a loom) a movable frame that contains the shuttles, the race plate, and the reed, and that by its oscillating motion beats the filling yarn into place.
any movable part of a loom.

Origin of lay

5
First recorded in 1780–90; variant of lathe
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for lay

British Dictionary definitions for lay (1 of 4)

lay1
/ (leɪ) /

verb lays, laying or laid (leɪd) (mainly tr)

noun

See also layabout, lay aside, lay away, lay-by, lay down, lay in, lay into, lay off, lay on, lay out, lay over, lay to, lay up

Word Origin for lay

Old English lecgan; related to Gothic lagjan, Old Norse leggja

usage for lay

In careful English, the verb lay is used with an object and lie without one: the soldier laid down his arms; the Queen laid a wreath; the book was lying on the table; he was lying on the floor. In informal English, lay is frequently used for lie: the book was laying on the table. All careful writers and speakers observe the distinction even in informal contexts

British Dictionary definitions for lay (2 of 4)

lay2
/ (leɪ) /

adjective

of, involving, or belonging to people who are not clergy
nonprofessional or nonspecialist; amateur

Word Origin for lay

C14: from Old French lai, from Late Latin lāicus, ultimately from Greek laos people

British Dictionary definitions for lay (3 of 4)

lay3
/ (leɪ) /

noun

a ballad or short narrative poem, esp one intended to be sung
a song or melody

Word Origin for lay

C13: from Old French lai, perhaps of Germanic origin

British Dictionary definitions for lay (4 of 4)

lay4
/ (leɪ) /

verb

the past tense of lie 2
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

Idioms and Phrases with lay

lay

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