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
Can be confusedlay lie2 (see usage note at the current entry)downsize fire lay off rightsize terminatelay off layoff
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.
British Dictionary definitions for lay off (1 of 5)
British Dictionary definitions for lay off (2 of 5)
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
British Dictionary definitions for lay off (3 of 5)
Word Origin for lay
British Dictionary definitions for lay off (4 of 5)
Word Origin for lay
British Dictionary definitions for lay off (5 of 5)
Idioms and Phrases with lay off (1 of 2)
Terminate a person from employment. For example, When they lost the contract, they had to lay off a hundred workers. This expression formerly referred to temporary dismissals, as during a recession, with the idea that workers would be hired back when conditions improved, but with the tendency of businesses to downsize in the 1990s it came to mean “terminate permanently.” [First half of 1800s]
Mark off the boundaries, as in Let's lay off an area for a flower garden. [Mid-1700s]
Stop doing something, quit, as in Lay off that noise for a minute, so the baby can get to sleep, or She resolved to lay off smoking. [Early 1900s]
Stop bothering or annoying someone, as in Lay off or I'll tell the teacher. [Slang; c. 1900]
Place all or part of a bet with another bookmaker so as to reduce the risk. For example, Some bookmakers protect themselves by laying off very large bets with other bookmakers. [Mid-1900s]
Idioms and Phrases with lay off (2 of 2)
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.