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; reject.
- 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.
- 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 47d).
- 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.
- 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
Synonyms for 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.
verb lays, laying or laid (leɪd) (mainly tr)
- nauticalto sail on a planned course without tacking
- to plan an action
- an act of sexual intercourse
- a sexual partner
Word Origin for lay
Word Origin for lay
Word Origin for lay
Old English lecgan "to place on the ground (or other surface)," also "put down (often by striking)," from Proto-Germanic *lagjanan (cf. Old Saxon leggian, Old Norse leggja, Old Frisian ledza, Middle Dutch legghan, Dutch leggen, Old High German lecken, German legen, Gothic lagjan "to lay, put, place"), causative of lie (v.2). As a noun, from 1550s, "act of laying." Meaning "way in which something is laid" (e.g. lay of the land) first recorded 1819.
Meaning "have sex with" first recorded 1934, in U.S. slang, probably from sense of "deposit" (which was in Old English, as in lay an egg, lay a bet, etc.), perhaps reinforced by to lie with, a phrase frequently met in the Bible. The noun meaning "woman available for sexual intercourse" is attested from 1930, but there are suggestions of it in stage puns from as far back as 1767. To lay for (someone) "await a chance at revenge" is from late 15c.; lay low "stay inconspicuous" is from 1839. To lay (someone) low preserves the secondary Old English sense.
"uneducated; non-clerical," early 14c., from Old French lai "secular, not of the clergy" (Modern French laïque), from Late Latin laicus, from Greek laikos "of the people," from laos "people," of unknown origin. In Middle English, contrasted with learned, a sense revived 1810 for "non-expert."
"short song," mid-13c., from Old French lai "song, lyric," of unknown origin, perhaps from Celtic (cf. Irish laid "song, poem," Gaelic laoidh "poem, verse, play") because the earliest verses so called were Arthurian ballads, but OED finds this "out of the question" and prefers a theory which traces it to a Germanic source, cf. Old High German leich "play, melody, song."
lay about one
Strike blows on all sides, as in When the dogs cornered the old man, he laid about him with his cane. [Early 1400s]
Act vigorously, make strenuous efforts, as in When there was an opportunity for profit, he laid about him. [c. 1600]
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.