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Idioms about pay

Origin of pay

First recorded in 1200–50; Middle English paien, payen, from Old French paier, paiier, from Medieval Latin pācāre “to satisfy, settle (a debt),” Latin: “to impose a settlement on”; cf. peace

synonym study for pay

19. Pay, wage or wages, salary, stipend are terms for amounts of money or equivalent benefits, usually given at a regular rate or at regular intervals, in return for services. Pay is the general term: His pay went up every year. Wage usually designates the pay given at an hourly, daily, or weekly rate, often for manual or semiskilled work; wages usually means the cumulative amount paid at regular intervals for such work: an hourly wage; weekly wages. Salary designates a fixed, periodic payment for regular work or services, usually computed on a monthly or yearly basis: an annual salary paid in twelve equal monthly installments. Stipend designates a periodic payment, either as a professional salary or, more commonly, as a salary in return for special services or as a grant in support of creative or scholarly work: an annual stipend for work as a consultant; a stipend to cover living expenses.

Other definitions for pay (2 of 2)

[ pey ]
/ peɪ /

verb (used with object), payed, pay·ing.Nautical.
to coat or cover (seams, a ship's bottom, etc.) with pitch, tar, or the like.

Origin of pay

First recorded in 1610–20; from Middle French poier, Old French peier, from Latin picāre “to smear with pitch,” derivative of pix (stem pic- ) pitch2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


what is a basic definition of pay?

Pay means to give money to someone to settle a debt or obligation. Pay also means to give money in exchange for something. Pay is also a person’s salary or wages. Pay has many other senses as a verb and a noun.

Pay means to settle a bill or a debt, such as paying the check at a restaurant or paying your electric bill. Sometimes you can pay in advance, meaning you pay for the product or service before you receive it. The past tense of the verb pay is paid.

Real-life examples: Homeowners pay their mortgages. Citizens pay taxes to the government. College students often have to pay student loans.

Used in a sentence: I always keep enough money in the bank to pay my rent on time.

Pay also means to give someone money for a product or service.

Real-life examples: A person might pay $20 for some old shirts. A parent may pay a store $50 for a gift for their child. A rich person may pay $5 million for a mansion.

Used in a sentence: She paid the actor $5 for an autographed picture. 

Pay is also the money a person earns in exchange for their labor. This sense of pay is a synonym of salary or earnings.

Real-life examples: When you have a job, you earn your pay. A doctor has a much higher pay than a teenager working a part-time job. Workers often go on strike or negotiate with the company to try and get a better pay.

Used in a sentence: He may not like his job that much, but he never complains about the pay.

Where does pay come from?

The first records of pay come from around 1150. It ultimately comes from the Medieval Latin pācāre, meaning “to satisfy” or  “to settle (a debt).”

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to pay?

What are some synonyms for pay?

What are some words that share a root or word element with pay

What are some words that often get used in discussing pay?

How is pay used in real life?

Pay is a very common word that is most often used to mean to give money in return for something.



Try using pay!

Is pay used correctly in the following sentence?

She is willing to pay a lot of money for the newest model of smartphone.

How to use pay in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for pay (1 of 2)

/ (peɪ) /

verb pays, paying or paid

Word Origin for pay

C12: from Old French payer, from Latin pācāre to appease (a creditor), from pāx peace

British Dictionary definitions for pay (2 of 2)

/ (peɪ) /

verb pays, paying or payed
(tr) nautical to caulk (the seams of a wooden vessel) with pitch or tar

Word Origin for pay

C17: from Old French peier, from Latin picāre, from pix pitch
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with pay


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