WATCH NOW: Why Is "Lying" Spelled With A "Y"

WATCH NOW: Why Is "Lying" Spelled With A "Y"

Why in the world is "lying" spelled with a "Y"?



the telling of lies, or false statements; untruthfulness: From boyhood, he has never been good at lying.


telling or containing lies; deliberately untruthful; deceitful; false: a lying report.

Nearby words

  1. lyell,
  2. lyell's disease,
  3. lyell, charles,
  4. lyell, sir charles,
  5. lygaeid,
  6. lying down,
  7. lying-in,
  8. lyingly,
  9. lyke-wake,
  10. lyle

Origin of lying

Middle English word dating back to 1175–1225; see origin at lie1, -ing1, -ing2

Related formsly·ing·ly, adverb




present participle of lie2.
Related formsly·ing·ly, adverb




a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.
something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture: His flashy car was a lie that deceived no one.
an inaccurate or false statement; a falsehood.
the charge or accusation of telling a lie: He flung the lie back at his accusers.

verb (used without object), lied, ly·ing.

to speak falsely or utter untruth knowingly, as with intent to deceive.
to express what is false; convey a false impression.

verb (used with object), lied, ly·ing.

to bring about or affect by lying (often used reflexively): to lie oneself out of a difficulty; accustomed to lying his way out of difficulties.

Origin of lie

before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English lyge; cognate with German Lüge, Old Norse lygi; akin to Gothic liugn; (verb) Middle English lien, Old English lēogan (intransitive); cognate with German lügen, Old Norse ljūga, Gothic liugan

Can be confusedlie lye

Synonym study

1. See falsehood.



verb (used without object), lay, lain, ly·ing.

to be in a horizontal, recumbent, or prostrate position, as on a bed or the ground; recline.
(of objects) to rest in a horizontal or flat position: The book lies on the table.
to be or remain in a position or state of inactivity, subjection, restraint, concealment, etc.: to lie in ambush.
to rest, press, or weigh (usually followed by on or upon): These things lie upon my mind.
to depend (usually followed by on or upon).
to be placed or situated: land lying along the coast.
to be stretched out or extended: the broad plain that lies before us.
to be in or have a specified direction; extend: The trail from here lies to the west.
to be found or located in a particular area or place: The fault lies here.
to consist or be grounded (usually followed by in): The real remedy lies in education.
to be buried in a particular spot: Their ancestors lie in the family plot.
Law. to be sustainable or admissible, as an action or appeal.
Archaic. to lodge; stay the night; sojourn.


the manner, relative position, or direction in which something lies: the lie of the patio, facing the water.
the haunt or covert of an animal.
Golf. the position of the ball relative to how easy or how difficult it is to play.

Verb Phrases

lie by,
  1. to pause for rest; stop activities, work, etc., temporarily.
  2. to lie unused: Ever since the last member of the family died, the old house has lain by.
lie down, to assume a horizontal or prostrate position, as for the purpose of resting.
lie in,
  1. to be confined to bed in childbirth.
  2. Chiefly stay in bed longer than usual, especially in the morning.
lie over, to be postponed for attention or action at some future time: The other business on the agenda will have to lie over until the next meeting.
lie up,
  1. to lie at rest; stay in bed.
  2. (of a ship) to dock or remain in dock.
lie with,
  1. to be the duty or function of: The decision in this matter lies with him.
  2. have sexual intercourse with.

Origin of lie

before 900; Middle English lien, liggen, Old English licgan; cognate with German liegen, Dutch liggen, Old Norse liggja, Gothic ligan; akin to Greek léchesthai to lie down

Usage note

See lay1. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for lying

British Dictionary definitions for lying




the present participle and gerund of lie 1


the present participle and gerund of lie 2



Trygve Halvdan (ˈtryɡvə ˈhalðan). 1896–1968, Norwegian statesman; first secretary-general of the United Nations (1946–52)



verb lies, lying or lied

(intr) to speak untruthfully with intent to mislead or deceive
(intr) to convey a false impression or practise deceptionthe camera does not lie


an untrue or deceptive statement deliberately used to mislead
something that is deliberately intended to deceive
give the lie to
  1. to disprove
  2. to accuse of lying
Related formsRelated adjective: mendacious

Word Origin for lie

Old English lyge (n), lēogan (vb); related to Old High German liogan, Gothic liugan



verb lies, lying, lay (leɪ) or lain (leɪn) (intr)

(often foll by down) to place oneself or be in a prostrate position, horizontal to the ground
to be situated, esp on a horizontal surfacethe pencil is lying on the desk; India lies to the south of Russia
to be buriedhere lies Jane Brown
(copula) to be and remain (in a particular state or condition)to lie dormant
to stretch or extendthe city lies before us
(usually foll by on or upon) to rest or weighmy sins lie heavily on my mind
(usually foll by in) to exist or consist inherentlystrength lies in unity
(foll by with)
  1. to be or rest (with)the ultimate decision lies with you
  2. archaicto have sexual intercourse (with)
(of an action, claim, appeal, etc) to subsist; be maintainable or admissible
archaic to stay temporarily
lie in state See state (def. 13)
lie low
  1. to keep or be concealed or quiet
  2. to wait for a favourable opportunity


the manner, place, or style in which something is situated
the hiding place or lair of an animal
  1. the position of the ball after a shota bad lie
  2. the angle made by the shaft of the club before the upswing
lie of the land
  1. the topography of the land
  2. the way in which a situation is developing or people are behaving

Word Origin for lie

Old English licgan akin to Old High German ligen to lie, Latin lectus bed


See lay 1

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 lying
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for lying




The manner or position in which something is situated, especially the relation that the long axis of a fetus bears to that of its mother.

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

Idioms and Phrases with lying


In addition to the idioms beginning with lie

  • lie down
  • lie in
  • lie in state
  • lie in wait
  • lie low
  • lie through one's teeth
  • lie with

also see:

  • barefaced lie
  • give the lie to
  • (lie) in state
  • lay of the land (how the land lies)
  • let sleeping dogs lie
  • make one's bed and lie in it
  • take lying down
  • white lie
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.