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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


Examples from the Web for laymen

Historical Examples

  • 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