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[ley-muh n]
See more synonyms for layman on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural lay·men.
  1. a person who is not a member of the clergy; one of the laity.
  2. a person who is not a member of a given profession, as law or medicine.
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Origin of layman

Middle English word dating back to 1150–1200; see origin at lay3, man1

Usage note

See -man.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for laymen

parishioner, dilettante, outsider, proselyte, secular, novice, recruit, believer, member, follower, neophyte, laic, nonprofessional

Examples from the Web for laymen

Historical Examples of laymen

  • And the word was invented to distinguish the laymen from the clergymen.

    Samantha Among the Brethren, Part 7.

    Josiah Allen's Wife (Marietta Holley)

  • In all these respects they have been regarded as laymen from the beginning.

    Samantha Among the Brethren, Part 7.

    Josiah Allen's Wife (Marietta Holley)

  • They will only be admired by artists of perception, and by laymen of keen sensibility.

    Adventures in the Arts

    Marsden Hartley

  • The Tartars are divided into two grand classes—lamas and laymen.

  • Laymen, he complained, now "advanced" their own laws rather than those of the Church.

    Henry VIII.

    A. F. Pollard

British Dictionary definitions for laymen


noun plural -men
  1. a man who is not a member of the clergy
  2. a person who does not have specialized or professional knowledge of a subjectscience for the layman
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Gender-neutral form: layperson
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 laymen



"non-cleric," early 15c., from lay (adj.) + man (n.). Meaning "outsider, non-expert" (especially in regards to law or medicine) is from late 15c. Related: Laymen.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper