verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to separate into or form layers.
(of a garment) to permit of wearing in layers; be used in layering: Frilly blouses don't layer well.

Nearby words

  1. layaway,
  2. layaway plan,
  3. layback,
  4. laydeez,
  5. laydown,
  6. layer board,
  7. layer cake,
  8. layer of rods and cones,
  9. layerage,
  10. layered

Origin of layer

First recorded in 1350–1400, layer is from the Middle English word leyer, legger. See lay1, -er1

Related formslay·er·a·ble, adjectivein·ter·lay·er, nounin·ter·lay·er, verb (used with object)non·lay·ered, 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

1300–50; Middle English < Middle French lai < Medieval Latin lāicus laic Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for layer

British Dictionary definitions for layer



a thickness of some homogeneous substance, such as a stratum or a coating on a surface
one of four or more levels of vegetation defined in ecological studies: the ground or moss layer, the field or herb layer, the shrub layer, and one or more tree layers
a laying hen
  1. a shoot or branch rooted during layering
  2. a plant produced as a result of layering


to form or make a layer of (something)
to take root or cause to take root by layering

Word Origin for layer

C14 leyer, legger, from lay 1 + -er 1



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

to put in a low or horizontal position; cause to lieto lay a cover on a bed
to place, put, or be in a particular state or positionhe laid his finger on his lips
(intr) not standard to be in a horizontal position; liehe often lays in bed all the morning
(sometimes foll by down) to establish as a basisto lay a foundation for discussion
to place or dispose in the proper positionto lay a carpet
to arrange (a table) for eating a meal
to prepare (a fire) for lighting by arranging fuel in the grate
(also intr) (of birds, esp the domestic hen) to produce (eggs)
to present or put forwardhe laid his case before the magistrate
to impute or attributeall the blame was laid on him
to arrange, devise, or prepareto lay a trap
to place, set, or locatethe scene is laid in London
to apply on or as if on a surfaceto lay a coat of paint
to impose as a penalty or burdento lay a fine
to make (a bet) with (someone)I lay you five to one on Prince
to cause to settleto lay the dust
to allay; suppressto lay a rumour
to bring down forcefullyto lay a whip on someone's back
slang to have sexual intercourse with
slang to bet on (a horse) to lose a race
to press down or make smoothto lay the nap of cloth
to cut (small trunks or branches of shrubs or trees) halfway through and bend them diagonally to form a hedgeto lay a hedge
to arrange and twist together (strands) in order to form (a rope, cable, etc)
military to apply settings of elevation and training to (a weapon) prior to firing
(foll by on) hunting to put (hounds or other dogs) onto a scent
another word for inlay
(intr; often foll by to or out) dialect, or informal to plan, scheme, or devise
(intr) nautical to move or go, esp into a specified position or directionto lay close to the wind
lay aboard nautical (formerly) to move alongside a warship to board it
lay a course
  1. nauticalto sail on a planned course without tacking
  2. to plan an action
lay bare to reveal or explainhe laid bare his plans
lay hands on See hands (def. 12)
lay hold of to seize or grasp
lay oneself open to make oneself vulnerable (to criticism, attack, etc)by making such a statement he laid himself open to accusations of favouritism
lay open to reveal or disclose
lay siege to to besiege (a city, etc)


the manner or position in which something lies or is placed
taboo, slang
  1. an act of sexual intercourse
  2. a sexual partner
a portion of the catch or the profits from a whaling or fishing expedition
the amount or direction of hoist in the strands of a rope

Word Origin for lay

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


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




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




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




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

Word Origin and History for layer
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for layer




A single thickness of a material covering a surface or forming an overlying part or segment.


To divide or form into layers.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with layer


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

also see:

  • let it lay

Also see underlaid uplieput.

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