verb (used with object), laid, lay·ing.
verb (used without object), laid, lay·ing.
- a partner in sexual intercourse.
- an instance of sexual intercourse.
- to abandon or put to one side.
- to save for use at a later time; store: to lay aside some money every month.
- to reserve for later use; save.
- to hold merchandise pending final payment or request for delivery: to lay away a winter coat.
- to bury: They laid him away in the tomb.
- to put away for future use; store; save: She had managed to lay by money for college from her earnings as a babysitter.
- Nautical. (of a sailing vessel) to come to a standstill; heave to; lay to.
- Midland and Southern U.S. to tend (a crop) for the last time, leaving it to mature without further cultivation.
- to give up; yield: to lay down one's arms.
- to assert firmly; state authoritatively: to lay down rigid rules of conduct.
- to stock; store: to lay down wine.
- to produce or execute (something) successfully; throw down: In the top of the thirteenth inning, Jones laid down a perfect bunt.
- Shipbuilding. to draw at full size (the lines of a hull), as on the floor of a mold loft; lay off; loft.
- to dismiss (an employee), especially temporarily because of slack business.
- Informal. to cease or quit: He promised to lay off drinking.
- Slang. to stop annoying or teasing: Lay off me, will you?
- Informal. to stop work: They laid off at four and went home.
- to put aside or take off.
- to mark off; measure; plot.
- Slang. to give or hand over; pass on: They laid off their old sofa on the neighborhood recreation center.
- (of a bookmaker) to transfer all or part of (a wager) to other bookmakers in order to be protected against heavy losses.
- to get rid of or transfer (blame, responsibility, etc.): He tried to lay off the guilt for the crime on his son.
- Nautical. to sail away from.
- Nautical. to remain stationary at a distance from.
- Shipbuilding. lay1 (def. 47e).
- to cover with; apply: to lay on a coat of wax.
- to strike blows; attack violently: When the mob became unruly, the police began to lay on.
- Nautical. to sail toward.
- Nautical. to row (an oar) with a full stroke.
- Slang. to tell, impart, or give to: Let me lay a little good advice on you.
- Chiefly British Informal. to provide as a gift, bonus, or treat; give; treat: The owners laid on a Christmas dinner for the employees.
- to cut open: to lay open an area of tissue with a scalpel.
- to expose; reveal: Her autobiography lays open shocking facts about her childhood.
- to expose or make vulnerable, as to blame, suspicion, or criticism: He was careful not to lay himself open to charges of partiality.
- to extend at length.
- to spread out in order; arrange; prepare.
- to plan; plot; design.
- to ready (a corpse) for burial.
- Informal. to spend or contribute (money).
- Slang. to knock (someone) down or unconscious.
- Slang. to scold vehemently; reprimand: Whenever I come home late from school, my mom really lays me out.
- to make a layout of.
- Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. to absent oneself from school or work without permission or justification; play hooky.
- to be postponed until action may be taken: The vote will have to be laid over until next week.
- to make a stop, as during a trip: We will have to lay over in Lyons on our way to the Riviera.
- Nautical. to check the motion of (a ship).
- Nautical. to put (a ship) in a dock or other place of safety.
- to attack vigorously.
- to put forth effort; apply oneself.
- to put away for future use; store up.
- to cause to be confined to bed or kept indoors; disable.
- Nautical. to retire (a ship) from active use.
- Nautical. (of a ship) to be retired from active use.
- to construct (a masonry structure): The masons laid the outer walls up in Flemish bond.
- to apply (alternate layers of a material and a binder) to form a bonded material.
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?
QUIZ YOURSELF ON THE 12 TYPES OF VERB TENSES!
Idioms for lay
- to strike or aim blows in every direction.
- to proceed to do; set about.
- Nautical. to sail in the desired direction without tacking.
- to proceed according to a plan.
Origin of lay1
synonym study for lay
words often confused with lay
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 nearby lay
Definition for lay (2 of 5)
Definition for lay (3 of 5)
Origin of lay3
Definition for lay (4 of 5)
Origin of lay4
Definition for lay (5 of 5)
Origin of lay5
LAY VS. LIE
What's the difference between lay and lie?
Lay commonly means to put or place someone or something down, as in Lay the bags on the table or I’m going to lay the baby in the crib. The sense of lie that’s often confused with lay means to be in or get into a reclining position—to recline, as in I just want to lie in bed for a few more minutes.
Though it’s considered nonstandard, lay is commonly used to mean the same thing as this sense of lie, as in I just want to lay in bed for a few more minutes.
The confusion between the two words is largely due to the fact that lay is also the past tense form of this sense of lie, as in I lay in bed yesterday morning wishing I could go back to sleep. The other tenses of this sense of lie are lain, as in I have lain in bed for the past three hours, and lying, as in I am lying in bed right now. (In contrast, when lie is used as a verb meaning to tell an untruth, its past tense is simply lied.)
The other tenses of lay are laid, as in I laid the bags on the table, and laying, as in Start laying the fruit here and the vegetables there.
Lay is typically used with an object, meaning someone or something is getting laid down by someone. In contrast, lie is something you do yourself without any other recipients of the action.
This sense of lie is commonly used in the verb phrase lie down, as in I was feeling tired so I decided to lie down. Using the phrase lay down to mean the same thing is considered nonstandard, but it’s also very common.
Lay down is also used as a verb phrase meaning about the same thing as lay, as in You can lay down your bags on the table (or You can lay your bags down on the table).
Although lay and lie are often used interchangeably in casual communication, it’s best to use them in the standard way in more formal contexts.
A good way to remember which one to use is to think about whether you could replace the word with put or recline. If you can replace it with put, you probably want to use lay, as in Please lay (put) the bags on the table. If you could replace the word with recline, you probably want to use lie, as in I just want to lie (recline) in bed for a few more minutes.
Here’s an example of lay and lie used correctly in the same sentence.
Example: He said he was just going to lay the blanket on the grass and lie on it for a few minutes, but he lied. After he laid the blanket down, he lay on it for two hours!
Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between lay and lie.
Quiz yourself on lay vs. lie!
Should lay or lie be used in the following sentence?
I’m going to _____ the baby down to take a nap.
How to use lay in a sentence
If the organization were in a better financial position — and hadn’t laid off around 25% of its staff this year — it may have kept Notes alive and maybe tried to rework Send.
We still think about ourselves as a startup, and when you think about yourself as a startup it’s really hard to lay off employees.Are you ready to start traveling for work again? TripActions’ CEO is banking on it|Michal Lev-Ram, writer|September 15, 2020|Fortune
If the Eagles didn’t exist, that would be the biggest egg laid on Sunday.We Knew A Football Team Would Win In Week 1. But Maybe Not ‘Football Team.’|Sara Ziegler (firstname.lastname@example.org)|September 14, 2020|FiveThirtyEight
Nothing protected rank-and-file employees from simply being laid off, and the prime beneficiaries have been shareholders and bondholders as the stock market has soared to new heights.The Big Corporate Rescue and the America That’s Too Small to Save|by Lydia DePillis, Justin Elliott and Paul Kiel|September 12, 2020|ProPublica
One of those who may benefit is Ed Miyoshi, who was laid off in December 2016, when he was at 57 and had worked at IBM’s Hopewell Junction, New York, facility for 35 years.The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Confirms a Pattern of Age Discrimination at IBM|by Peter Gosselin, special to ProPublica|September 11, 2020|ProPublica
One police officer was coolly dispatched as he lay wounded on the sidewalk.
Lay the butterflied pork loin on the cutting board with the fat cap facing down.Make Carla Hall’s Roasted Pork Loin With Cranberries|Carla Hall|December 24, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The cop lay open-eyed with a grievous head wound as Johnson again checked for a pulse.'Please Don't Die!': The Frantic Battle to Save Murdered Cops|Michael Daly|December 22, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Gingerly, about 30 couples lay down and squatted on mats and rugs for the mass face-sit.Britain’s Record-Breaking Face-Sitting Porn Protest|Nico Hines|December 12, 2014|DAILY BEAST
In their opinion, this would allow conservatives to lay a marker down on immigration while avoiding a shutdown for the time being.Bachmann and Pelosi vs. Boehner and Obama Over Spending Bill|Ben Jacobs|December 11, 2014|DAILY BEAST
A small book, bound in full purple calf, lay half hidden in a nest of fine tissue paper on the dressing-table.Hilda Lessways|Arnold Bennett
The seed of discontent was again germinating under the duplicity of the Spanish lay and clerical authorities.The Philippine Islands|John Foreman
At the sight, Felipe flung himself on his knees before her; he kissed the aged hands as they lay trembling in her lap.Ramona|Helen Hunt Jackson
Alone Orlean lay trying vainly to forget something—something that stood like a spectre before her eyes.The Homesteader|Oscar Micheaux
Sometimes the child lay so still that Aristide arose to see whether he was alive.The Joyous Adventures of Aristide Pujol|William J. Locke
British Dictionary definitions for lay (1 of 4)
verb lays, laying or laid (leɪd) (mainly tr)
- nautical to sail on a planned course without tacking
- to plan an action
- an act of sexual intercourse
- a sexual partner
Word Origin for lay
usage for lay
British Dictionary definitions for lay (2 of 4)
Word Origin for lay
British Dictionary definitions for lay (3 of 4)
Word Origin for lay
British Dictionary definitions for lay (4 of 4)
Idioms and Phrases with lay
In addition to the idioms beginning with lay
- lay about one
- lay a finger on
- lay an egg
- lay aside
- lay at rest
- lay at someone's door
- lay a wager
- lay away
- lay by
- lay claim to
- lay down
- lay down the law
- lay eyes on
- lay for
- lay hands on
- lay hold of
- lay in
- lay into
- lay it on the line
- lay it on thick
- lay low
- lay odds
- lay off
- lay of the land, the
- lay on
- lay one's cards on the table
- lay oneself out
- lay on the line
- lay open
- lay out
- lay over
- lay someone low
- lay to rest
- lay up
- lay waste
- let it lay
Also see underlaid uplieput.