Main definitions of lay in English

: lay1lay2lay3lay4



  • 1with object and adverbial of place Put (something) down gently or carefully.

    ‘she laid the baby in his cot’
    • ‘He lays a hand gently on my shoulder, stretching his arm further round my back when I do not push him away.’
    • ‘He gently laid the violin back into its case and locked it shut, handing it to one of the band members to put in the back for safe keeping until he was ready leave.’
    • ‘Cleo cradled her broken arm and gently lay it so it was supported by her lap.’
    • ‘Chuckling, I scooped them up in the palm of my hand and laid them gently on top of a soft pile of Green Stamps and bore them so to London town.’
    • ‘I frown and move closer to him, laying my hand gently on his shoulder.’
    • ‘Vincent sighed laying an arm gently over my shoulder.’
    • ‘Sasha laid his new sister carefully in the playpen that had been erected in the corner of the living room.’
    • ‘Colt lays his hand gently on her shoulder in solidarity.’
    • ‘She gently laid the pills next to it and waited for her brother to answer.’
    • ‘Softly and carefully she removed each jewel that kept her hair in place before laying it gently on her lap.’
    • ‘I did as she told me, and she laid the boy gently on my arms.’
    • ‘I gently laid my hands upon her shoulders and heard her quiet tears.’
    • ‘She reached out and laid a hand gently on his elbow, and her eyes were soft.’
    • ‘He scoops up a selection of the sliced eggplant and limps over to the grill on his stovetop, where he carefully lays them to cook alongside the red and yellow peppers.’
    • ‘Becca carefully laid the last pieces of her clarinet in their places and snapped the case shut.’
    • ‘He laid the peasant girl gently in the grass beside him and looked down at her dark eyes brimming with tears.’
    • ‘The dog whined and gently laid its head into her lap.’
    • ‘He took off his long jacket and laid it carefully across the back of the chair and took his boots and glasses off as well.’
    • ‘Liza smiled gently, laying her cheek against his chest.’
    • ‘He laid the gun gently on the stool next to her plate.’
    put, place, set, put down, set down, deposit, rest, situate, sit, settle, stow, balance, station, drop, leave, let fall, throw down, fling down, deploy, locate, position
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    1. 1.1with object Prevent (something) from rising off the ground.
      ‘there may have been the odd light shower just to lay the dust’
      • ‘With the state of the roads in those parts, palm branches might have improved the surface no end, and been effective in laying the dust clouds.’
      • ‘The rain the day before cooled the air and laid the dust.’
      • ‘There was a thunder storm here this morning, and I was hoping that the rain might lay the pollen and dust a bit.’
      • ‘The light rain has laid the dust and little is lifted by your wheels as you drive.’
  • 2with object Put down and set in position for use.

    ‘it is advisable to have your carpet laid by a professional’
    • ‘In addition the ventilation system is being improved, seats have been re-covered and new carpets are being laid.’
    • ‘Overnight these streets have been laid with colored sawdust carpets.’
    • ‘The Red Carpet was especially laid for the guests who really enjoyed their stay there.’
    • ‘He hid it away carefully, thus laying the groundwork for a future evil villain to rediscover it at some later time and take over the world then.’
    • ‘The thick green carpet that was laid down looked almost like real, lush grass.’
    • ‘This lays the ground for suggesting some means to move forward in the debate.’
    • ‘A lovely window seat has been built into one of the bay windows, and a pine floor has just been laid - the carpet was destroyed by our parties.’
    • ‘My flat is progressing too, with the bulk of the decorating work likely to be finished this week, and new (cheap and cheerful) carpet to be laid on Wednesday.’
    • ‘The drums scatter while a trembling, funky bass-riff lays the ground work for the string section to lead.’
    • ‘He grinned against my lips and propelled me towards his bed, but before we got there, I laid some ground rules.’
    • ‘The recent fall of snow, laid in a thick carpet, deadened any sound, adding to the tranquillity and pristine feel of the mountains.’
    • ‘The ancient and largely uncomfortable seating would be replaced and the giant 2,300-seater Oval Hall redecorated and a new carpet laid.’
    • ‘It's certainly better than the nanotechnology-thick carpet that was previously laid directly onto the concrete screed.’
    • ‘With the blue carpet only laid recently and the translation booths still to be fitted out, the 13th floor has yet to be finished.’
    • ‘This will lay the ground rules for anyone who tries to seek an exception to go whaling in the future.’
    1. 2.1British Set cutlery, crockery, etc. on (a table) in preparation for a meal.
      ‘she laid the table for dinner’
      • ‘I remember looking into one and seeing a little dining table laid out with tiny silver cutlery.’
      • ‘No expense had been spared in the ballroom itself, where the tables had been laid for a lavish banquet.’
      • ‘The Green Room features a table laid ready for a meal.’
      • ‘She laid the table then went back and returned with two more glasses.’
      • ‘Then off we go to find the dining room, and lay the table.’
      • ‘The gleam of an oil lamp cast a brilliant pool of light through the open door and they saw that a table had been laid for supper.’
      • ‘In the houses located in the Midlands, guests dine at one large polished dining table laid with old family silver.’
      • ‘She turned quickly, in a swirl of black robes, and hurried along the forbidding corridors back to a table laid for two.’
      • ‘Once they have prepared and cooked the two-course meal, the children sit down at a table they have laid and eat together.’
      • ‘The tables were being laid, and there's a Bouncy castle for the children.’
      • ‘He stepped into the kitchen to see his sister laying the table for them both.’
    2. 2.2often be laid with Cover (a surface) with objects or a substance.
      ‘the floor was laid with mattresses’
      • ‘In shambles, pavements once laid with tiles were chaotically dug up.’
      • ‘The entrance hall has original floor tiles laid out in a herringbone design, moulded cornices and an original ceiling rose.’
      • ‘One example of this was a blind elderly woman who had non-slip tiles laid on her bathroom floor to minimize the risk of injury.’
      • ‘Modern display units feature large sliding trays laid with tiles, enabling customers to envisage a whole floor.’
      • ‘In recent years, the surface has been laid with sand and loam.’
      • ‘The acupressure track has been laid with stone pebbles and tiles.’
      • ‘And the benefits are promised to be worth the wait with new lights installed, bridges strengthened and a new smoother and quieter road surface laid.’
      • ‘The heavy slabs laid to cover drains along the tracks hinder cleaning and have become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.’
      • ‘As well as the existing handrails, the slopes are also being laid with a non-slip surface.’
      • ‘Beautiful golden cream tiles lay upon the floor along with some that were chocolate brown.’
      • ‘When I arrive in out of the cold, the tables are laid with fresh white tablecloths, gleaming cutlery and sparkling wine glasses.’
      • ‘It will also have a new hard surface laid for older children to play ball games.’
      • ‘The bar had a chalkboard of snacks listed, and for a moment my heart sunk, but settled at a window table laid with crisp white linen, the menu for the restaurant was really enticing.’
      • ‘The all-weather surface comprises artificial turf laid onto a rubber composite material, giving a realistic feel.’
      • ‘There's an outside seating area laid with gravel and helpfully placed stone benches.’
      • ‘A new plastic surface will also be laid for the event.’
    3. 2.3 Put the material for (a fire) in place and arrange it.
      ‘he was making newspaper knots before laying a fire in the fireplace’
      • ‘I hastily finished laying the fire before going down below the stairs to the kitchen.’
      • ‘Hunter returned to his place by Missy's side in front of the glowing embers of the dying fire laid in the black iron stove.’
      • ‘The only light came from the fire that had been laid so the room would be a comfortable temperature for me.’
      • ‘A fire has been laid for us in the parlour and I am certain we have much to discuss.’
      • ‘The crowd was focusing its attention on an old woman who sat next to a fire laid on the stone floor of the classroom.’
      • ‘The girl closed the door, lit lamps and a fire that was already laid, then shuttered the only window of the one room cottage, as if wanting privacy.’
      • ‘The rooms were bigger than The Laughing God's, but no fires had been laid, there were no hot baths, and meals cost two coppers apiece.’
      • ‘Every one of the 400 bedrooms had a coal fire, laid by the staff each day.’
    4. 2.4 Prepare (a trap) for someone.
      ‘she wouldn't put it past him to lay a trap for her’
      • ‘He laid a ‘glue trap’ by the hole at the back of my kitchen cupboard.’
      • ‘They have fallen into the trap the publishers laid down nearly 300 years ago.’
      • ‘She had some sort of trap laid and she was preparing to spring it on him.’
      • ‘It makes bureaucratic booby traps, laid down by government civil servants at their final destination, cruel indeed.’
      • ‘But she wasn't ready to accept him yet, it could be an elaborate trap laid by one of the Four.’
      • ‘The course covers the laws about poisons, and the dangers to wildlife, and practical exercises in laying and baiting a trap.’
      • ‘He likes his sport but is only too aware how it can lay dangerous and unseen traps.’
      • ‘There was no off-switch, and the seemingly clean-cut, anti-drugs pop star fell into every artfully concealed trap that fame laid for him.’
      • ‘But the trap has usually been laid for the opponent, supported by a strong defense and kicking game.’
      • ‘By now, the immediate surroundings were quiet, most of the troops had mustered at the south side of camp in preparation to spring the trap that had been laid.’
      • ‘Those involved in the ambush said a trap had been laid, and that the area was marked with defensive earth berms and firing positions.’
      • ‘At suitable sites, mist nets are strung up, and traps laid that harmlessly snare the birds as they come down to roost or rest.’
      • ‘Last weekend, I laid down traps to catch the rats.’
      • ‘And stupidity, sheer stupidity, meant that they did not see the trap that they had laid for themselves.’
      • ‘A pest-control company has told me there is no evidence of any activity in the attic, though traps and poison were laid.’
      • ‘In the ensuing panic, it appears other hostages had inadvertently set off booby traps laid in the theatre by the rebels.’
      • ‘There was still many hours of daylight left, plenty of time to lay out the trap in his mind.’
      • ‘We zoom in for a brief moment to show the array of spike traps the police have laid in place to disable the car.’
      • ‘A trap should only be laid if it is part of the overall strategic plan.’
      • ‘They also easily become prey to traps that are indiscriminately laid.’
    5. 2.5 Work out (an idea or suggestion) in detail ready for use or presentation.
      ‘I'd like more time to lay my plans’
      • ‘Plans are being laid to turn the clock back 60 years across large swathes of the resort for three days in early September.’
      • ‘Plans had also been laid to raise more then £1 million locally.’
      • ‘French security sources said that advanced plans had been laid to use a stolen truck or a helicopter loaded with explosives.’
      • ‘As stormy weather closes in, delaying passage even longer, Joan's carefully laid plans are dashed upon the rocks by an equally powerful emotional gale.’
      devise, arrange, contrive, make, prepare, work out, hatch, concoct, design, plan, scheme, plot, organize, frame, think up, dream up, cook up, brew, conceive, make ready, get ready, put together, draw up, produce, develop, compose, formulate
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    6. 2.6lay something before Present information or suggestions to be considered and acted upon by (someone)
      ‘he laid before Parliament proposals for the establishment of the committee’
      • ‘If you will say that this sum (for the time above specified) will be sufficient, I shall lay the matter before the English Government.’
      • ‘The first Order under this paragraph shall not be made unless a draft of the Order has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.’
      • ‘The government will then lay an order before Parliament before they become effective from November.’
      • ‘Thereafter, the Secretary of State lays the report before Parliament pursuant to Section 73.’
      • ‘We voters must not feel singled out by the Prime Minister's refusal to lay the full facts before us.’
      • ‘I set out first the Defendants' witnesses, as, by agreement, the Defendants led their evidence first, as they were most easily able to lay the factual position before the Court.’
      • ‘A spokesman had earlier said the police could not act solely on the basis of a video and that someone had to lay a charge before an investigation could be started.’
      • ‘We are instructed by the above-named prosecutor, and wish to lay the following information before the court.’
      • ‘There may be other cases where allegations are put forward in some other form, and that may be an appropriate case for the Board to lay a complaint before the Tribunal.’
      • ‘He lays the evidence before us, without comment, so that we may draw our own conclusions.’
      • ‘The Act gives the shareholder two possibilities for laying a removal resolution before a meeting of the shareholders in the face of an uncooperative board.’
      • ‘I've recruited a great blogger to fill in for me for a few days since I'm unable to lay my pearls before you with the frequency you deserve.’
      • ‘It may otherwise generally regulate its own procedure, but it must lay a report before Parliament.’
      • ‘The proposals will be laid before parliament in the autumn.’
      • ‘Section 31 required that the code should not be issued unless a draft had been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.’
      • ‘But several requests to lay proposals before the bank met with no serious response except that the bank should simply lend more money.’
      bring, bring forward, put forward, submit, advance, present, press, prefer, offer, lodge, register, place, file, table
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    7. 2.7 Locate (an episode in a play, novel, etc.) in a particular place.
      ‘no one who knew the area could be in doubt where the scene was laid’
    8. 2.8with object Stake (an amount of money) in a bet.
      ‘she suspected he was pulling her leg, but she wouldn't have laid money on it’
      • ‘Something funny is going on here… I'd lay all my money on a bet that it was the Emperor who sent that spell to kill me.’
      • ‘But despite taking $25,000 bets before, she will be content with laying a more modest wager.’
      • ‘The money was duly laid down, so Lucas whipped off his kit and plunged in.’
      bet, wager, gamble, stake, hazard, risk, chance, venture
      View synonyms
  • 3with object Used with an abstract noun so that the phrase formed has the same meaning as the verb related to the noun used, e.g. ‘lay the blame on’ means ‘to blame’

    ‘she laid great stress on little courtesies’
    • ‘The report lays much of the blame at door of the UK's planning authorities.’
    • ‘Then stress should be laid accordingly so that one treats the root.’
    • ‘If blame is to be laid, it should be at the feet of a handful of aged and godly spinsters and widows who taught me through my primary education.’
    • ‘We cannot lay all the blame on foreigners visiting the country.’
    • ‘Too much stress cannot be laid on this point since it is perhaps the most important of all, certainly quite as important as the maintenance of perfect balance.’
    • ‘I suppose I should not lay too much blame at the door of the opposite sex.’
    • ‘True blame must be laid at the feet of those who refuse to accept that there is a need now, more that ever before, for constitutional reform.’
    • ‘Yet it is all too easy to lay all the blame at the door of the coach and call for quick fixes.’
    • ‘Stress must be laid on product quality and benefits before any discussions on price.’
    • ‘Yet not all the blame can be laid at the feet of the activists, because it was the very nature of the government's debate process that encouraged them to act as they did.’
    • ‘All the mistakes are clearly coming into the light, blame is being laid down hard and fast and there is nowhere to hide, not a spin left in the cycle.’
    • ‘But the blame cannot be laid solely at the door of the organisation and its leaders.’
    • ‘No single reason explains this sorry state of affairs - the region is too parti-coloured for the blame to be laid at any one door.’
    • ‘The finger of blame cannot be laid at the door of the team management, for our planning was immaculate.’
    • ‘There are, after all, dangers in laying all the blame at the manufacturer's door.’
    • ‘It's just easier to lay all the blame squarely on the shoulders of smokers.’
    • ‘If any blame is to be laid at all, it is at the defense's door for this delay.’
    • ‘Much blame can be laid on the corrupt and profit-ravenous food industry that shovels false information and dreadful products down our throats all day long.’
    • ‘The blame here cannot be laid on some interagency squabble between, say, the State Department and the Pentagon.’
    • ‘The conference is of great significance to the institute, as special stress would be laid on developing a training programme for it.’
    assign, attribute, ascribe, allocate, allot, impute, attach, impose, fix
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  • 4with object (of a female bird, insect, reptile, or amphibian) produce (an egg) from inside the body.

    ‘flamingos lay only one egg’
    no object ‘the hens were laying at the same rate as usual’
    • ‘In fact most perching birds lay eggs that are mostly white except for a ring of reddish spots around the blunt end.’
    • ‘The female wasp lays her eggs inside the developing medfly egg.’
    • ‘At night on the beaches, giant turtles would lay their eggs.’
    • ‘A female butterfly lays an egg that looks like a miniature pearl, or a squashed golf ball, or a whiskey barrel.’
    • ‘The moth lays eggs, and the larvae leave silvery trails as they damage the foliage.’
    • ‘The adult female louse lays eggs, which hatch after seven days, in sacs adjacent to the scalp.’
    • ‘They were overjoyed as the mother bird laid eggs.’
    • ‘Being reptiles, the crocodilians lay eggs, but they are not abandoned by mother croc.’
    • ‘In the middle of it all, this bird laid an egg but abandoned it and continued to mate.’
    • ‘Most adult female sea turtles will lay several hundred eggs during a nesting season.’
    • ‘A mother bird lays her eggs and protects them as they grow.’
    • ‘The initial report said that the beaches of both islands are places where sea turtles lay their eggs.’
    • ‘When a bee lays its eggs, it also provides a packet of pollen and nectar - like an energy gel for a long bike ride - for its offspring.’
    • ‘However, some insects selfishly lay their own eggs in empty cells rather than taking care of the queen's eggs.’
    • ‘These host plants are where the female butterfly will eventually lay her eggs.’
    • ‘On another day, we all rushed to the headman's home after hearing that a chicken had laid a strange egg.’
    • ‘The female beetle lays eggs only where she knows aphids are present.’
    • ‘Female flies lay eggs every two or three days, 300 eggs each time, which means the number of flies will rocket if not controlled.’
    • ‘Female turtles begin laying their eggs at age 50 and then come back to lay them every six years for another 50 years.’
    • ‘For example, turtles lay their eggs within hours in beach sand and then leave them.’
  • 5vulgar slang with object Have sex with.

  • 6Nautical
    with object Follow (a specified course)

    ‘I'm going to lay a course for Ibiza harbour’
  • 7with object Trim (a hedge) back, cutting the branches half through, bending them down, and interweaving them.

    ‘most hedges are no longer laid’
    • ‘The ancient art of hedge laying is alive and well thanks to a lone Preston craftsman, plying his trade around the area's villages.’
    • ‘Members of the group spend Sundays laying hedges and developing the grounds of the church.’
    • ‘Pay particular attention to the topping or lopping of trees or the trimming or laying of hedges.’
    • ‘I had just arrived in the park to do some hedge laying.’
    • ‘All entrants should have some hedge laying experience and onlookers are welcome.’
    • ‘He was particularly skilled at draining with hand tools and either laying or cutting thorn hedges.’


  • 1in singular The general appearance of an area of land.

    ‘the lay of the surrounding countryside’
    • ‘And he sees it all and always has a real good feeling about the lay of the land, but his heart is really unique.’
    • ‘They dream of living off the land of their parents - but the lay of the land has changed a lot since 1948.’
    • ‘The lay of the land is also a defensive tool for the prudent general.’
    • ‘Just as we are getting a feel for the lay of the land, we stumble on a new wing we had almost forgotten had existed.’
    • ‘Not doing more than getting the lay of the land, but they were there.’
    • ‘She was trying to get the lay of the land, not to get herself laid.’
    • ‘As they say, there is safety in numbers, so if you're in an unfamiliar place, stay with a group, at least until you know the lay of the land.’
    • ‘I'm sort of going to give you the lay of the land and then we'll go inside.’
    • ‘Which is pretty much the way to evaluate the current lay of the land in Ukraine.’
    • ‘Animals are often better at working out the lay of the land than are human beings, and Isobel's horse was no exception.’
    • ‘Let's take a look at some satellite imagery, give you a sense of the lay of the land of where those pictures are coming from.’
    • ‘JB knew the lay of the land pretty well and steered us to a hotel on O'Farrell.’
    • ‘She had no idea of the lay of the surrounding land, and nowhere to stay.’
    • ‘In addition to learning the lay of the land, we would work out logistics for travel with twenty students.’
    • ‘Each one was adept at their trade; they knew the lay of their respective lands.’
    • ‘They know the lay of the land literally, and they know what a hurricane of this type will do.’
    • ‘Give us a lay of the land right now, just about two weeks before the caucuses.’
    • ‘I just did not think that where we were in the lay of the land that water was going to collect here.’
    • ‘And Bip and Bop they knew the lay of the land.’
    • ‘Then, in a remarkable burst of rail building energy, engineers began cutting straight swaths across the lay of the land.’
    1. 1.1 The position or direction in which something lies.
      ‘roll the carpet against the lay of the nap’
    2. 1.2 The direction or amount of twist in rope strands.
  • 2vulgar slang An act of sexual intercourse.

    1. 2.1with adjective A person with a particular ability or availability as a sexual partner.
  • 3mass noun The laying of eggs or the period during which they are laid.

    ‘the onset of lay may be marked by a dropping of the duck's abdomen’
    • ‘Both male and female breeders are subject to a restricted feeding regime for their first few weeks of life - about 20 days to the point of lay.’


The verb lay means, broadly, ‘put something down’, as in they are going to lay the carpet. The past tense and the past participle of this verb is laid, as in they laid the groundwork or she had laid careful plans. The verb lie, on the other hand, means ‘be in a horizontal position to rest’, as in why don't you lie on the floor? The past tense of this verb is lay (he lay on the floor) and the past participle is lain (she had lain on the bed for hours). Thus, in correct use, lay can be either the past tense of lie or the base form of lay. In practice many people make the mistake of using lay, laying, and laid as if they meant lie, lying, lay, and lain. Examples of incorrect use: why don't you lay on the bed? (correct form is lie); she was laying on the bed (correct form is lying); he had laid on the floor for hours (correct form is lain)


  • get laid

    • informal Have sex.

      • ‘It's like they all just went on the show to get laid more than usual.’
      • ‘He was keeping himself busy with his life's work - trying and failing to get laid.’
      • ‘I don't go out to get laid - I go out to have fun.’
      • ‘What does one's opinion on politics have to do with getting laid?’
      • ‘He had a Playboy duvet cover and still got laid!’
  • in lay

    • (of a hen) laying eggs regularly.

      • ‘Velogenic viral infection of chickens and turkeys in lay usually reveal egg yolk in the abdominal cavity with flaccid, degenerative follicles.’
      • ‘Laying chickens produce 265-280 eggs during the 13-14 months they are in lay.’
      • ‘When fully grown the chicken should sport a nice firm comb; The comb will be bright red when the chicken is in lay.’
      • ‘When she is in lay, she lays an egg a day - usually in the morning.’
  • lay something bare

    • Bring something out of concealment; expose something.

      ‘the sad tale of failure was laid bare’
      • ‘Check out the back pages of any glossy magazine and the dream is laid bare.’
      • ‘The ‘appalling’ state of a crisis-hit council's finances were laid bare yesterday, amid warnings that most services faced swingeing cuts.’
      • ‘On the new timescale, the truth about the truth is laid bare.’
      • ‘They said they hoped to make the specialist worker's appointment a permanent one after the scale of the problem was laid bare by police figures.’
      • ‘Thanks to all of you, whatever your persuasion, politics or faction, for your dedication to stripping down the issues and occasionally laying them bare.’
      • ‘In this fashion, the whole of our belief system and our culture is laid bare and destroyed.’
      • ‘Much of its former usages were laid bare for exhibitions.’
      • ‘It left me exposed, like my heart was laid bare before him.’
      • ‘The ‘chilling’ methods used by tobacco companies to market cigarettes were laid bare today as thousands of previously confidential papers were published on the internet.’
      • ‘The carnage of a motorcycle crash will be laid bare before bikers when they are given the chance to see the gruesome results.’
      reveal, disclose, divulge, show, expose, exhibit, bring to light, uncover, unveil, unmask, manifest, express, highlight, pinpoint, put the spotlight on, betray, give away, smoke out, let slip, blurt out, publish, acknowledge, make a clean breast of, make known, make public
      View synonyms
  • lay a charge

    • Make an accusation.

      ‘we could lay a charge of gross negligence’
      • ‘The information gathered through the investigation did not merit laying a charge against anyone.’
      • ‘When he went to lay a charge at the local police station, the police officer on duty refused to open a case, claiming that he could not open a case for a R20 robbery.’
      • ‘I told him I wanted to lay a charge of assault, and he told me he had two witnesses who would say I had assaulted him.’
      • ‘It is significantly different than laying a charge for the purpose of furthering a civil claim.’
      • ‘The prosecutor should not lay a charge where there is no reasonable prospect of securing a conviction before a reasonable jury.’
      • ‘He said a shot was fired at him at the nightclub and he went to the police station to lay a charge of attempted murder.’
      • ‘Yet the Children's Bill says ‘a male child that was subjected to circumcision against his will may lay a charge of assault’.’
      • ‘It is not even clear that they have to lay a charge or, if a person is found not guilty, that they have to return those things that they have seized.’
      • ‘The incident resulted in the 26-year-old woman laying a charge of rape against the 53-year-old judge, who was arrested and has spent the past few days in prison.’
      • ‘I didn't think they had sufficient evidence to lay a charge, let alone obtain a conviction and that view hasn't changed after what I've seen today.’
      bring, bring forward, put forward, submit, advance, present, press, prefer, offer, lodge, register, place, file, table
      View synonyms
  • lay claim to

    • 1Assert that one has a right to (something)

      ‘four men laid claim to the leadership’
      • ‘He bravely handled the pressure, stringing four flawless racks to lay claim to victory and the US $75,000 first-place check.’
      • ‘The Portuguese were, unlike the other European imperial powers in laying claim to what were in effect not rights of property but rights to use.’
      • ‘Japan has laid claim to all the islands seized by Soviet troops at the end of World War II but Russia maintains the issue only involves part of them.’
      • ‘Four young sisters have laid claim to being Bolton's most musical family after two of them landed places in national orchestras.’
      • ‘So 2 percent of the people are laying claim to 10 percent of the coastline; where is the justice in that?’
      • ‘Because his own title to the crown was doubtful, he laid claim to that of France.’
      • ‘Perhaps a jealous third party, who previously had owned and photographed this object, was laying claim to it now that it carried a high estimate in the catalogue.’
      1. 1.1Assert that one possesses (a skill or quality)
        ‘she has never laid claim to medical knowledge’
        • ‘No, he possesses the real genius that only our greatest comedians can lay claim to.’
        • ‘Other religious systems may also lay claim to some of these qualities, but not to the totality of these.’
        • ‘I find it amusing that so many actresses and models lay claim to one or more of these attributes.’
        • ‘One thing that is worse than doing things badly is doing things badly and laying claim to 100 percent purity and clean, greenness.’
        • ‘They laid claim to medical expertise as psychiatrists, and urged that patients be treated in clinics and private practices in the early stages of their illness.’
        • ‘In seeking to define himself as Australia's next leader, he lays claim to possessing a key quality he reveres.’
        • ‘We were led by Stephanie, who grew coffee in Kona and thus lays claim to more coffee knowledge than the rest of us combined.’
        • ‘Begging doesn't suit him, but honor is something he no longer lays claim to.’
        • ‘Please feel free to point out any factual inaccuracies - I am well aware that there are many folks around with more knowledge of this subject than I could possibly lay claim to.’
        • ‘Certainly I am still early in my aikido development - I am a sandan, and lay claim to no special level of skill or talent.’
  • lay down one's arms (or weapons)

    • Cease fighting.

      • ‘Another faction, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), laid down its arms five years ago.’
      • ‘Hakimi declared that no Taliban would agree to lay down his arms as long as U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan.’
      • ‘A decade after laying down their arms, the Contras and the Sandinistas are squaring off in an election that could return Daniel Ortega to power.’
      • ‘And if the Palestinian people eventually agree to lay down their arms, this should serve to keep extremist organizations in check.’
      • ‘He is willing to give the formula for free to any country that asks, provided that they agree to lay down their arms and live in peace.’
      • ‘The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 declared that in modern warfare fighting men who laid down their arms were to be decently treated; the Geneva Convention of 1929 spelled out the details.’
      • ‘Opposition politicians refuse to participate in new elections unless he steps down, and the rebels say they will lay down their weapons only when he is ousted.’
      • ‘He pressed ahead with a policy of reconciliation, drawing up a civil concord whereby armed groups would be amnestied if they laid down their arms.’
      • ‘Retired Major General Robert Harris, from Pennsylvania, who has two sons currently on a mission to Afghanistan, said that during the Gulf War the unit's broadcasts urged the Iraqis to lay down their arms and surrender.’
      • ‘But, the Marines' natural aggressiveness has been tempered with the knowledge that the battle is against Hussein and his soldiers who choose to fight, not with the Iraqi people or those who lay down their arms.’
      • ‘‘We have reports of approximately 2,500 soldiers of the Iraqi Republican Guard laying down their arms in their confrontation with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force,’ Capt. Thorp said, citing reports from the Marines.’
      • ‘We have with certain knowledge the fact that thousands more have laid down their weapons and have gone home.’
      • ‘More than 600 attended his funeral in Leytonstone to hear family members appeal to local youngsters to lay down their weapons.’
      • ‘An estimated 4000 people have reportedly laid down their arms.’
      • ‘Many in the militia have laid down their weapons.’
      • ‘If everyone disarms and lays down their weapons, they'll even let the fighters go.’
      • ‘Offers from Khartoum of federal autonomy failed to persuade the increasingly active guerrillas to lay down their arms.’
      • ‘The Defendant has from that moment laid down its arms.’
      • ‘The 15 were handed over to Kuwaiti police after laying down their arms and giving up, said Captain Darrin Theriault, headquarters company commander of the First Brigade of the US Army's Third Infantry Division.’
      • ‘Of the 50, 514 soldiers who have laid down their arms, 44, 995 have entered into the reintegration programme.’
      • ‘If you and your fellows lay down your arms, you will not be harmed.’
      • ‘Through megaphones, voices in broken English blared out at them, urging them to surrender and lay down their arms.’
      • ‘The Welsh laid down their weapons for the feast but the drunken merry making came to a dramatic halt when William challenged them never again to bear arms in his domains.’
      • ‘Speaking by satellite phone from deep inside Afghanistan, the general said that Taliban units were now laying down their arms, and that a three-pronged offensive was closing on the strategic city of Mazar-e-Sharif.’
      • ‘Supporters of the rebel stood by their promise to lay down their weapons peacefully.’
      • ‘What was unusual was this: In honour of the forthcoming Olympic games, both sides agreed to lay down their arms and allow participants to pass through enemy territory unharmed.’
      • ‘That mission is facing warring factions to lay down their weapons.’
      • ‘Terrorists and insurgents must lay down their weapons, and enable the vitally important reconstruction and humanitarian work to go ahead.’
      • ‘A senior U.S. official said earlier this month that American authorities have negotiated with key Sunni leaders, who are in turn talking with insurgents and trying to persuade them to lay down their arms.’
      • ‘Negotiations cannot convince the militia's leaders to lay down their arms.’
      • ‘And the Republicans, I guess, will be so shocked and awed that they will lay down their arms and capitulate.’
      • ‘Typically, this category includes members of a military who have not laid down their arms as well as others who are fighting or approaching a battle, directing an attack, or defending a position.’
      • ‘On Monday, Egyptian mediators went home without a firm agreement from Hamas and other militant groups to lay down their arms, but Palestinian officials said they are confident a deal can be reached in coming days.’
      • ‘Reconstruction of Iraq can only begin when the resistance is either killed off or lays down their arms.’
      relinquish, surrender, give up, yield, cede, turn over
      View synonyms
  • lay down one's life

    • Sacrifice one's life for a cause.

      ‘the willingness of British troops to lay down their lives for their country is a humbling thought’
      • ‘He paid tributes at AOC War Memorial to soldiers who had laid down their lives for the cause of the nation.’
      • ‘The great Sikh martyr Baba Deep Singh laid down his life in revenge.’
      • ‘Over 1100 men of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) laid down their lives in Sri Lanka.’
      • ‘Now I find myself mother to five beautiful, intelligent, creative children for whom I would lay down my life in an instant.’
      • ‘I do not mean to belittle the heroic deeds achieved by the pioneers, some whom even laid down their lives in fighting crime.’
      • ‘They are not afraid to lay down their lives for what they believed.’
      • ‘The scripture in the Bible says no greater love hath no man than a man who lays down his life for his friends.’
      • ‘Rejected by his own, he willingly lays down his life.’
      • ‘Men and women who of their own volition have said they are willing to lay down their lives for a country they believe in.’
      • ‘One may, of course, literally have to lay down one's life.’
  • lay a (or the) ghost

    • 1Exorcise a ghost.

      • ‘And perhaps some form of exorcism or " laying the ghost ".’
      • ‘Mick said there were stories of various attempts to lay the ghost.’
      1. 1.1Finally cease to be troubled by the memory of an unpleasant situation or event.
        ‘we need to lay the ghost of the past and move ahead’
        • ‘For me, drawing's uniqueness has something to do with the fundamental activity of actually trying to lay a ghost or exorcise oneself.’
        • ‘Once you have laid a ghost to rest, he or she can join your team and you can use them in future missions.’
        • ‘It is as hard for a man to escape assassination as it is to lay a ghost.’
        • ‘Valentukevicius, however, wants to lay the ghosts of the war to rest forever.’
        • ‘Claire after winning € 20,000 on a lottery ticket heads off to Greece with her young daughter to lay the ghosts of her past to rest.’
        • ‘The army prided itself in re-establishing its deterrence over Hamas, laying the ghosts of Lebanon in 2006.’
        • ‘As long as it persists, Japan will never lay the ghost of its past.’
        • ‘But she's also keen to lay a ghost from her past that could also provide her with some hope for the future.’
        • ‘Can it lay the ghost of the Roman imperium and become something other than a male gerontocracy?’
        • ‘A virtual passenger four years ago against France following pre-match convulsions, the 25-year-old was clearly a man who had laid a ghost to rest.’
        • ‘If you set out to lay a ghost by writing a novel, it may or may not end up being a good book.’
        • ‘Perhaps incorporating the brand in staffing will lay the ghost to rest.’
        • ‘Having eaten and rested it was time once again to lay the ghosts to rest and pay respects to the many Germans who had fallen in the desert.’
        • ‘Having said that, this is an opportunity to lay a ghost to rest and rehearse a form of communication that is common in professional practice.’
        • ‘It felt like I wanted to reconcile with them, to lay a ghost, but I never managed to.’
        • ‘British Airways wants to lay the ghost of the victorious unofficial walkouts by check-in staff in July 2003.’
        • ‘It is entirely up to you what type of publication you have and up to us to present it in a way that will make you smile, feel proud or even lay a ghost to rest by way of cathartic exercise.’
        • ‘It won't lay a ghost overnight, but such a campaign might stop anarchy and chaos for ever haunting football yet to come.’
        • ‘Cougars are out for revenge against Sheffield Eagles on Sunday - to lay the ghosts of last year's nightmare defeats.’
        • ‘I think, accordingly, the best thing for me to do is, to sit down and lay the ghost by writing out my story.’
  • lay hands on (also lay or put one's hands on)

    • 1Find and take possession of.

      ‘they huddled trying to keep warm under anything they could lay hands on’
      • ‘In short, your business is far from being destroyed if you manage to lay your hands on this membership.’
      • ‘I would spend as much time as I possibly could tucked away in different corners of the house reading pretty much anything I could lay my hands on on the subject.’
      • ‘As soon as I could walk I started to draw on anything with everything I could lay my hands on: walls, furniture, nothing was safe for me.’
      obtain, acquire, get, come by, find, locate, discover, unearth, uncover, bring to light, run to earth, turn up, pick up, come up with, secure, procure, hit on, ferret out, get one's hands on, encounter, get possession of, buy, purchase
      View synonyms
    • 2Place one's hands on or over, especially in confirmation, ordination, or spiritual healing.

      ‘at the healing service, the clergy offered to lay hands on anyone who wished it’
      • ‘Only two out of the six churches I’ve served since 1981 felt the freedom and the need to lay hands on people and pray for healing.’
      • ‘He asked for prayer and the brother complied, laying hands on him and asking God to anoint him so that he might lay hands on his friend for healing.’
      • ‘It is still used in the ceremony of confirmation, where a bishop, priest, or minister lays hands on the confirmand and prays for them to receive the Holy Spirit.’
      • ‘Myself and another lady laid our hands on the spot that hurts him the most and prayed for him on Sunday.’
      bless, consecrate
      View synonyms
  • lay hold of (or on)

    • Catch or gain possession of.

      ‘he was afraid she might vanish if he did not lay hold of her’
      • ‘Then you will notice that the original founders of religion, admirably laying hold of pure simplicity, were the bitterest foes of literary learning.’
      • ‘This is what the author is clearly reaching out for in this section, but does not fully lay hold of.’
      • ‘The monster laid hold of him, but Beowulf kept in mind his strength, the precious gift’
      • ‘The war is fundamentally an attempt by the US to lay hold of these natural resources by force of arms.’
      • ‘The real revolution in philosophy would be to regard the contingencies of history as the means by which we lay hold of reality.’
      • ‘One thing is especially proved by the Paris Commune, that the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes.’
      • ‘‘In all the districts I visited every opportunity of collecting the folk-lore was laid hold of, and a good deal of it […] was gathered ’.’
      • ‘Ever since the emergence of the early state, various handfuls of people have been laying hold of inordinate amounts of wealth and power.’
      • ‘But lay hold on this inescapable fact - one day, all death will be abolished.’
      • ‘Boyle argued that only by laying hold of atomist ideas could the occult and teleological influence of the alchemists be removed from the subject.’
  • lay someone low

    • 1(of an illness) reduce someone to inactivity.

      ‘he was laid low by a stomach bug’
      • ‘However, Dove has been laid low by a virus all week and his chances of being involved at the weekend are 50-50.’
      • ‘Rain, thunder and lightning of epic proportions have not succeeded in cleaning the air and we are laid low with massive headaches, blocked sinuses and pervasive brain fog.’
      • ‘The cold - which laid me low for days - is nearly over.’
      • ‘I've been sore for a month, and one short day of skiing laid me low.’
      • ‘I did have dengue fever last year which laid me low, I was in hospital for a week.’
      • ‘And despite a heavy cold laying her low over Christmas, she does not intend to make that jump her last.’
      • ‘Not enough to lay me low, but enough to make me tired and miserable and feel a bit sorry for myself.’
      • ‘Even when a stroke laid him low, he was doing sit-ups and press-ups by his hospital bed.’
      • ‘Anyway, I thought, a nice bacterial infection might zap the mystery virus that's laid me low for the past year or so.’
      • ‘No sooner did I return from vacation than I was laid low with horrific stomach flu - I've been barely able to get out of bed for the last week.’
      • ‘I am sure producers and TV executives everywhere were sorry to hear that Jon had been laid low by pneumonia before Christmas and like me wished him a speedy recovery.’
      1. 1.1Bring to an end the high position or good fortune formerly enjoyed by someone.
        ‘she reflected on how quickly fate can lay a person low’
        • ‘He is the archenemy to the Order and has vowed to lay them low one way or another.’
        • ‘That's also the premise which lays them low - most people don't have the time to do overly intensive data entry.’
        • ‘Should he make that connection, he would be perfectly within his rights to lay you low for looking for information that is none of your business.’
  • lay something on thick (or with a trowel)

    • informal Grossly exaggerate or overemphasize something.

      ‘the message is laid on with a trowel for three hours’
      • ‘Philip lays it on thick, telling her that he forgives her for faking the pregnancy, and that he is sorry for leaving her at the altar.’
      • ‘I can safely say this: the English-speaking voice actors are bad, laying it on thick and heavy, without an ounce of subtlety.’
      • ‘Occasionally, the tone can be too sentimental and some of the historic background is laid on with a trowel, but these are quibbles.’
      • ‘He knows how to lay it on thick when he needs to, you know?’
      • ‘I laid it on with a trowel, and of course she deserved it.’
      • ‘She lays it on thick about how she's always loved your work and how she thinks you could make beautiful music together.’
      • ‘There was some speculation that he might simply be laying the melodrama on thick for the benefit of the crowd, but I don't see it.’
      • ‘Someone could have a bone to pick with you soon, and they'll lay it on thick as sauce.’
      • ‘In the name of race relations, satire and social commentary, he lays it on thick, offering egocentric observations like ‘She didn't finish high school’.’
      • ‘Before she started publishing her guidebooks, the words in most botanical tomes were laid on with a trowel, leaving no room for illustrations.’
      exaggerate, stretch the truth, overdo it, overstate one's case, embellish the truth
      View synonyms
  • lay someone open to

    • Expose someone to the risk of (something)

      ‘his position could lay him open to accusations of favouritism’
      • ‘Or do all such systems lay you open to spontaneous global chatting?’
      • ‘Because I think it lays us open to the suggestion that we were avoiding them, and I think that is unwise.’
      • ‘I gather too they were somewhat concerned by your argument that taking the case on a no-win, no-fee basis lays them open to a counter-suit from you’
      • ‘Her denials may have worked technically but laid her open to ridicule.’
      • ‘The public must realise all surgical procedures carry risks and having plastic surgery lays them open to all of these.’
      • ‘Privacy campaigners say the system lays you open to permanent surveillance.’
      • ‘Spotlighting their demands and various forms of activism, it also lays them open to the charge of providing a pretext for foreign intervention in their domestic affairs.’
      • ‘If asked I would certainly refuse to rub down women because it lays you open to allegations of assault.’
      • ‘To say that the arrested ‘terrorists’ were nothing of the sort laid him open to accusations of appeasement, treachery even.’
      • ‘His accuser is a former drinking and gambling mate, whose allegations have laid him open to prosecution.’
  • lay oneself out to do something

    • Make a special effort to do something.

      ‘she's laying herself out to be pleasant’
      • ‘Look round the circle in which your lot is cast, and lay yourself out to be useful.’
      • ‘What he desires is to absorb as many lives as he can, and he has laid himself out to achieve it in a cumulative way.’
      • ‘He really laid himself out to express what was in his mind.’
      • ‘If you start talking about power, you're really laying yourself out to be challenged on just how powerful you are, so people never do it unless they're pretty sure of their ground.’
      • ‘I had to get work, and I laid myself out to get it.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • lay about

    • 1Beat or attack (someone) violently.

      ‘they weren't against laying about you with sticks and stones’
      • ‘The guards laid about them, striking men and women with the flats of their swords.’
      • ‘Dancers, casting aside their cloaks, revealed themselves as lightly armored fighters who drew all manner of weapons and began laying about them with a will.’
      • ‘They laid about him with the back of their axes and overwhelmed him with stones and (thigh) bones and ox heads.’
      1. 1.1Strike out wildly on all sides.
        ‘the mare laid about her with her front legs and teeth’
        • ‘Mary alone attempted to resist by force the intrusion of these soldiers, laying about her with a parasol to fend off the men trying to get through the bedroom door.’
        • ‘I'm getting on a bit myself but I am quite willing and capable of laying about myself with a stick if need be.’
        • ‘Now Big Larry kept the crowd from annoying the couple, by properly laying about him with a switch all along the road.’
        • ‘The standard image of a barbarian is some bloodthirsty crazy shouting out incomprehensible threats and laying about him /em> with a massive axe.’
        • ‘Behave churlishly and rudely, treating everyone you encounter like some kind of moron and generally laying about you with a riding crop.’
  • lay something aside

    • 1Put something to one side.

      ‘he laid aside his book’
      figurative ‘the situation gave them a good reason to lay aside their differences’
      • ‘The mother, never idle, lays her workbox aside and throws her sewing work over the arm of her chair to listen solicitously as her daughter recites a passage from the Bible.’
      • ‘If ethnic differences are laid aside, it is likely the issue of religious observance that will keep Afghanistan's rulers busy for some time to come.’
      • ‘Everyone thought he was kidding until, at the height of his fame, he laid his camera aside to concentrate on painting and drawing.’
      • ‘After and only after both players have picked, they may take pairs of cards of the same rank from their hands and lay them aside to count toward their score.’
      • ‘After a while you lay the polio aside and kind of forget about it.’
      • ‘‘Coming,’ he called, laying his laptop aside; taking long strides towards the door and opening it.’
      • ‘All jokes are laid aside and the two at last reconcile themselves about the accident.’
      • ‘Rraerch had laid her glass aside and was leaning toward me.’
      • ‘The composer was never quite satisfied with it, however, and after a tentative revision, he lay the work aside.’
      • ‘He lays the paper aside, and adds with a smile and a note of resignation, ‘I'm still trying to do all that.’’
      • ‘She reminds him to lay his anger aside and listen to Theseus, who wishes to allow Polyneices' request to be granted.’
      • ‘By the time we lay the book aside, we have witnessed an extraordinary reversal.’
      • ‘‘I see,’ the judge said, laying the scroll aside.’
      defer, shelve, hold over, suspend, put on ice, mothball, set aside, put off, put aside, put out of one's mind, wave aside, put back, adjourn
      abandon, cast aside, reject, renounce, repudiate, dismiss, disregard, ignore, forget, discard
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Reserve money for the future or for a particular cause.
        ‘he begged them to lay something aside towards the cause’
        • ‘Prompt treatment is vital for the well-being of your pets, so ensure you can afford to lay money aside for contingencies such as these.’
        • ‘She has laid aside a little sum, but her long expensive illness takes her last dollar.’
        • ‘For homeowners it means paying off the mortgage slower, or reducing their ability to lay money aside for retirement.’
        put aside, put to one side, keep, save, store, hold in abeyance
        View synonyms
  • lay something down

    • 1Put something down.

      • ‘She laid down on the cot, pulling a tattered blanket over herself.’
      • ‘He laid the phone down and said, "She won't be coming back."’
      • ‘The block was built around the four sides of a concrete courtyard which he had laid down.’
      • ‘Garth found a patch of grass underneath a tree, laid down, and fell asleep.’
      • ‘At the edge, Linda lays the flowers down, kneeling beside the grave.’
      • ‘She sighed as she laid the last plate down.’
      • ‘Fiber-optic cables are being laid down along the national and state highways in Kerala.’
      • ‘She walked to the bed and lay the platter down in front of her.’
      • ‘He walked up to her desk and laid a file down.’
    • 2Formulate and enforce or insist on a rule or principle.

      ‘stringent criteria have been laid down’
      • ‘From the start strict rules were laid down for its romantic novels, toning down passion to avoid offence.’
      • ‘The rules are laid down for signing and loaning players and Wanderers work strictly within those rules.’
      • ‘In my view, no hard and fast rules can be laid down in respect of this issue.’
      • ‘As laws are laid down, the principles of justice on which they were founded crystallise and one is left with the bare bones of legal rules.’
      • ‘School rules are not laid down so that teachers can get a kick out of enforcing them.’
      • ‘The king inherited a government whose rules had been laid down by his father, the former king.’
      • ‘It does seem particularly important that as quickly as possible the core legal principles are laid down.’
      • ‘Originally, under international law, war was waged between states, and rules were laid down governing its declaration and the conduct which had to be observed.’
      • ‘I appealed to them, saying that I was more than happy to follow whatever ground rules had been laid down.’
      • ‘Other federal laws enacted before the Supreme Court's new rules were laid down will undoubtedly be reviewed, and some will be found wanting.’
      formulate, stipulate, set down, draw up, frame
      View synonyms
    • 3Pay or bet money.

      ‘when it comes to field sports, large sums of money are laid down’
      • ‘I've done my bit to help Freddie to make his millions by purchasing his novels as they appeared, so why stop now I said to myself recently as I laid my money down for his latest.’
      • ‘It's a haven in the wild west of the web; a place where you can lay your money down and be sure that you will get your cash back if the goods do not turn up.’
      • ‘The money was duly laid down, so Lucas whipped off his kit and plunged in.’
      • ‘So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out I'll never forget the look on his face when he said Mama's gonna look so great’
    • 4Begin to construct a ship or railway.

      ‘twenty-four ships were projected, of which twenty were laid down’
      • ‘Work proceeded forthwith, and the first three of five Holland boats were laid down on February 4, 1901.’
      • ‘Yet nobody complained a peep about the Bonaventure when it was laid down to access the Champlain Bridge and Expo 67.’
      • ‘As psychoanalysis has taught us in its methodology of disinterested attention, only after all the tracks have been laid down may one begin to evaluate them.’
      • ‘The massive naval harbour that bites into Algeciras Bay was a Victorian achievement, that was only properly completed in the 1900's after which the dry docks were laid down.’
      • ‘Two ironclads were laid down there, but these were unfinished when the Federal fleet took the city.’
      • ‘Only a fraction of ships laid down were ever fully operational.’
      1. 4.1Build up a deposit of a substance.
        ‘these cells lay down new bone tissue’
        • ‘This is a condition in which fatty deposits are laid down in the walls of arteries, which are less elastic and weaker as a result.’
        • ‘Synorogenic flysch deposits were laid down in front of the advancing allochthonous complexes, and were overridden by them.’
        • ‘The rover Opportunity will seek to determine how the layers were laid down, and look for evidence of water from hot springs, which could arise out of local volcanic warming.’
        • ‘The rock that makes up the landscape was laid down in the Jurassic period, between about 150 and 200 million years ago.’
        • ‘The sediments were laid down in the late Pleistocene as broad alluvial fans derived from the nearby Santa Monica Mountains.’
        • ‘The spore wall layers are laid down in a specific order in which the mannan, glucan, chitosan, and dityrosine layers overlay outward in a step-wise manner.’
        • ‘We know that these limestones were laid down in a shallow shelf sea that was periodically exposed as sea levels fell worldwide owing to the build-up of ice in a former glaciation.’
        • ‘The fossil-bearing chalk deposits were laid down as ocean-floor ooze hundreds of kilometers from the waterways shores.’
        • ‘Additional studies will determine if the rocks were laid down by minerals formed at the bottom of a salty lake or sea.’
        • ‘The confusion can be traced to the uniformitarian expectations that the deposits were laid down over eons of time.’
    • 5Store wine in a cellar.

      ‘each bottle has to be laid down for several years before it is ready to drink’
      • ‘He believed the white mold actually played an important part of his winemaking process, as it coated nearly everything, from the barrels to the bottles which he laid down there for years.’
      • ‘When someone opens a bottle of my wine many years from now they will know that our wines have ageeability and can be laid down (cellared) for decades.’
      • ‘Alternatively, wines can be laid down for just one of these occasions, as required.’
      store, put into store, keep for future use, keep, save
      View synonyms
    • 6Record a piece of music.

      ‘he was invited to the studio to lay down some backing vocals’
      • ‘It was fact that we went in there and laid it down in six hours that gave the first songs such urgency and energy - just can't be captured again once you lose your innocence!’
      • ‘I can skip the searching process now and just grab a guitar, bass, keys or drums and lay it down.’
      • ‘He also sang most of the songs cold, before any instruments were laid down in the studio.’
      • ‘But the true power in this album is that she laid the tracks down live and left them that way.’
      • ‘When I start getting inputs in my head, I have to start laying them down.’
      • ‘So after a brief run through the tapes were switched on to lay a backing track down.’
      • ‘Once the composition takes shape, they and any session musicians they may need are used to laying it down at high speed.’
      • ‘How do you feel it's an advantage over laying things down on tape piece by piece?’
      • ‘This entire album could have been recorded in the earth's cavernous bowels, but in fact it was laid down at Bauer Studios, in Ludwigsburg.’
      • ‘Three chords are laid down but that's where the obvious territory ends, as within seconds it's all scrunched up and tossed for yet more spiky-assed punk recklessness.’
      • ‘After years of performing and touring, the time came for him to take his experiences and lay them down in the form of a demo, but not without a certain amount of hesitation.’
  • lay something in/up

    • Build up a stock of something in case of need.

      ‘we laid in a supply of firewood’
      • ‘By hard work and thrift he managed to lay up considerable of this world's goods and at the time of his death was in comfortable circumstances.’
      • ‘Unless you have the foresight to lay up stores in advance, production will grind to a halt.’
      • ‘During this time his expenses had swallowed up the small amount which he had succeeded in laying up previous to his sickness.’
      • ‘Manufacturers refused to lay in supplies in advance.’
      stock up on, stock up with, stockpile, store, store up, amass, heap up, hoard, save, stow, put aside, garner, accumulate, pile up, mass, assemble, stack up, put away, stow away, husband, reserve, preserve, conserve, collect, muster, put by, put by for a rainy day, squirrel away
      View synonyms
  • lay into

    • Attack violently with words or blows.

      ‘three youths laid into him’
      • ‘She laid into the companies that pitched for funds on the programme, saying she had only gone on the show to promote her business.’
      • ‘It shows a swaggering thug laying into a complete stranger.’
      • ‘I hear that the papers have been laying into it, saying what a pile of rubbish it was.’
      • ‘He was astounded when the journalist unexpectedly exploded into violence, laying into a passer-by larking about for the camera.’
      • ‘He was very, very aggressive and really laying into my car.’
      • ‘Our concern was for the five junior members of our party and whether a lack of laid-on amusements would lead to them laying into each other.’
      • ‘The former boxer was driving past the station in the High Road when he came across six teenagers laying into another youngster.’
      • ‘They all surrounded him and started laying into him with sticks and that.’
      • ‘After seeing the error of their comrades, the three armed men advanced more cautiously towards Erik, attempting to surround him first before they laid into their attack.’
      • ‘He lays into the Ulster Scots movement arguing that in over identifying with a Scottish rather than an Irish cultural idiom, they are reinforcing the otherness of Ulster Protestants.’
      attack, assail, hit, strike, let fly at, tear into, lash out at, set about, set upon, fall on, turn on, assault, beat, thrash, pound, pummel, wallop, hammer, pounce on, round on, pelt, drub
      criticize harshly, castigate, censure, lambaste, harangue, condemn, pillory, rant at, rave at
      View synonyms
  • lay off

    • Give up or stop doing something.

      ‘I laid off smoking for seven years’
      • ‘In her defense, laying off the booze would mean seeing him sober…’
      • ‘Now I'm doing an Amber and trying to quit the fags - my immune system is shot and laying off the smokes should help a bit.’
      • ‘I’m also trying to lay off the dairy after a week of upset stomach.’
      give up, stop, refrain from, abstain from, not continue, desist from, leave alone, cut out
      View synonyms
  • lay someone off

    • Discharge a worker temporarily or permanently because of a shortage of work.

      ‘the company has laid off 30 per cent of its staff’
      • ‘When I got laid off in January, I decided to start cooking once more.’
      • ‘This isn't the first time (and unlikely to be the last), but a group of striking workers in Korea have been laid off by text message by their employer.’
      • ‘If something goes wrong, if somebody gets laid off, if you have a child that gets sick, you go right off the cliff.’
      • ‘But after six months, she was laid off as business slowed down.’
      • ‘His wife, a former textile worker, took care of him and his son when he was laid off from his factory.’
      • ‘The bodyguards at the headquarters in Sofia have been laid off, and 30 luxury limousines have been sold.’
      • ‘If you remain with the company, what are the chances you will be laid off?’
      • ‘My best friend's husband got laid off, which I knew.’
      • ‘As many as 50 staff in York could be laid off in the management ranking process, as the company cuts up to 700 jobs nationally.’
      • ‘Nonetheless, her co-workers at the hotel told her that the next day two new workers were hired to do the same job she had been laid off from.’
      make redundant, dismiss, let go, discharge, give notice to, pay off, release
      View synonyms
  • lay something off

    • 1Soccer
      Pass the ball to a teammate.

      ‘Jules laid the ball off to the striker’
      • ‘He lays the ball off to Heskey, who drives a useless cross against the legs of the nearest Swedish defender.’
      • ‘The second red should have been for an elbow to the head after he'd laid the ball off.’
      • ‘They passed to each other, they ran past each other, they laid the ball off to each other.’
      • ‘No forward likes to have someone on top of them, they just end up laying the ball off with passes.’
      • ‘The 20-year-old opened the scoring in the 27th minute when he intelligently held the ball up before laying it off for Sunderland's talismanic midfielder.’
    • 2Paint the final layer on a wall or other surface.

      ‘lay off the paint with very light brush strokes’
      • ‘When it comes to laying the paint off to ensure no brush marks are left behind I always use the following analogy when training people to paint’
      • ‘When you get good at this, you can quickly reverse each consecutive pass to lay the paint off in one direction.’
      • ‘After applying by roller, laying off the paint with a brush or pad will give you an improved finish.’
    • 3(of a bookmaker) insure against a loss resulting from a large bet by placing a similar bet with another bookmaker.

      • ‘This scenario will happen to you and the trick is to accept it, lay the bet off and accept a small loss and then move onto your next trade.’
      • ‘Any sensible fella would have laid the bet off by now, guaranteeing him a fair wedge.’
      • ‘Even then you had to wait whilst he phoned and laid the bet off before they accepted it.’
  • lay something on

    • 1Provide a service or amenity.

      ‘the council provides a grant to lay on a bus’
      • ‘Early buses and trains were laid on for fans wanting to catch the action in town.’
      • ‘Free bus rides will be laid on, with members of the public also welcome.’
      • ‘The tourists took matters a step further and agreed to delay their departure to Zimbabwe provided a charter plane could be laid on for them to fly out on Monday night.’
      • ‘Alternate bus routes have been laid on until normal service is resumed.’
      • ‘Replacement bus services were laid on for rail passengers unable to travel over the weekend.’
      • ‘Donating the passes will cost the city a fraction of the headline figure, as no extra services will be laid on.’
      • ‘A spokesman said many more trains had been laid on today and full services should run.’
      • ‘Tickets will be on sale during the week and a bus service will be laid on from the village to the hall and home again that night.’
      • ‘The details of exactly which services will be laid on at each school will be decided by school governors.’
      • ‘Even special train services were laid on so people could witness the spectacle.’
      provide, supply, furnish, give, fix up, line up, organize, prepare, produce, come up with, dispense, purvey, bestow, impart, make available
      View synonyms
    • 2Require (someone) to endure or deal with a responsibility or difficulty.

      ‘this is an absurdly heavy guilt trip to lay on anyone’
      • ‘He says it is not fair to lay the entire responsibility on the group, since others may have been involved.’
      • ‘And that's one thing - when the administration tries to lay this responsibility on the military to make the decision - that's not who makes the decision to go to war.’
      • ‘He repeated his promise that his department was going to take responsibility for laying criminal charges on behalf of the boys if their parents did not do so.’
      • ‘She explains that American women are fortunate because our culture values the family and lays responsibilities on men so women can safely have children.’
      • ‘The participants felt the campaign should lay an equal emphasis on eliminating factors responsible for failure of poor rural families to impart education to their children.’
      • ‘Hoffman lays the main responsibility on historians who, as I mentioned, are so wary of economics.’
  • lay someone out

    • 1Prepare someone for burial after death.

      ‘they laid him out in the cabin in a big wooden box’
      • ‘A former Admiral of Cork Royal Yacht Club, he was laid out in his yacht club blazer and tie, a sailing hat placed on his remains.’
      • ‘I'm not at all a superstitious man, but that day when his body was laid out like Jesus Christ, he did look how the Lord is depicted.’
      • ‘His aunt said blood continued flow out of his nose when his body was laid out at his house before the funeral on September 2.’
      • ‘It was later confirmed that Kennedy was laid out in the East Room prior to his burial in Arlington.’
      • ‘The bodies were laid out in a neat row, each wrapped in a shroud of black plastic, next to the twisted wreckage of the bus.’
      • ‘They laid Rhiannon out, and erased all traces of their involvement in bringing her there.’
      • ‘The front part of the house, where he had met his customers, was cleared of furniture and his body was laid out there.’
      • ‘Bodies of children were laid out under a grove of trees near a hospital awaiting identification.’
      • ‘Hours after the blaze was brought under control, dozens of bodies were laid out in a nearby parking lot, their faces covered by T-shirts.’
      • ‘Indeed, his only remotely decent piece of acting comes when his corpse is laid out at the end of the film.’
      • ‘In a barren room lies the more or less mute and ill father; later his dead son is laid out in the same space.’
      • ‘You know, we were at the morgue yesterday afternoon and that was a really tough thing to do as well because hundreds of bodies have been laid out, all of them unidentified.’
      • ‘The design comes into its own in the final scene, when Lear and Cordelia are laid out together, finally united in death.’
      • ‘The walls of his log cabin-style burial chamber were draped in fabric, and he was laid out on a decorated bronze couch covered with furs and other material.’
      • ‘It was only on closer inspection that I saw its owner: the charred and mutilated remains of a Muslim woman had been laid out in the front garden and framed by a charpoy.’
      • ‘Survivors were rushed to the nearby hospital, while more than a dozen bodies were laid out in the hospital garden with their faces covered by cardboard.’
      • ‘I think if you could actually die of boredom, Dan would be laid out on the floor in a body bag by this point.’
    • 2Knock someone unconscious.

      ‘he was lucky that the punch didn't lay him out’
      • ‘The Major was laid out on the floor and a man in a white coat immediately bent over her.’
      • ‘If your brother knew what we did he'd lay me out with one punch.’
      knock out, knock unconscious, knock down, fell, floor, flatten, prostrate
      View synonyms
  • lay something out

    • 1Spread something out to its full extent.

      ‘the police were insisting that suitcases should be opened and their contents laid out’
      ‘her evening dress was laid out on the bed’
      • ‘She pulled out the costume and looked at the emblem thoughtfully for a minute, then carefully laid it out on another chair next to her front window.’
      • ‘The main instruments are laid out clearly in front of the driver.’
      • ‘‘Thank you so, so much,’ I whispered, laying the dress out on the gown and hugging my aunt tightly.’
      • ‘I lay my dress out on my bed and chose a pair of shoes before grabbing a towel and heading into the bathroom.’
      • ‘Since I still needed my dress the next week, I carefully laid it out on her bed and changed into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.’
      • ‘Carefully holding them he made his way back to the couch and laid the contents out on the coffee table.’
      • ‘Piles of bullets, Beretta handguns and Kalashnikovs are laid out carefully next to ornamental knives and silver jewellery.’
      • ‘Lauren unfolded the letter carefully and laid it out on the small table in her room.’
      • ‘He would lay his uniform out and dress from the toes up.’
      • ‘If you were to uncoil a French horn and lay it out to its full length, it would be over six miles long.’
    • 2Construct or arrange buildings or gardens according to a plan.

      ‘they proceeded to lay out a new town’
      • ‘The Flower Garden near the Orchid House is laid out with beds of flowering annual and perennials.’
      • ‘The buyer will have the opportunity to specify how the interior and formal gardens are laid out and will be able to put their own, personal stamp on the property.’
      • ‘The gardens had been laid out quite formally, but there are signs of obvious neglect.’
      • ‘Land in Whitton has been laid out in 28 allotment plots of varying sizes.’
      • ‘These gardens were laid out in 1550 for the Medici a year after they bought the Palazzo Pitti and were opened to the public in 1766.’
      • ‘The area where the houses and gardens would be laid out would be raised by about 2ft to counter the risk of flooding and changes to the drainage at the edge of the reserve.’
      • ‘The 208 apartments in the Tramyard will be laid out in eight blocks arranged in clusters around a landscaped courtyard.’
      • ‘Kutna Hora is laid out on a higgledy-piggledy hillside plan, a response to the mine-works underneath.’
      • ‘Santa Fe was laid out as a series of blocks around a plaza, with the government buildings on its north side.’
      • ‘The city of Philadelphia was laid out according to Penn's plan.’
      1. 2.1Arrange and present material for printing and publication.
        ‘the brochure is beautifully laid out’
        • ‘What I liked was that the material is laid out in a reasonable fashion.’
        • ‘Organized by ribs, ruffles, fringes, and other structures these details are laid out on full sized pages with large color photographs.’
        • ‘The final feed would end up in the production department, where the text would be laid out and made ready for actual printing.’
        • ‘The pages are laid out in tightly-controlled squares.’
        • ‘You can read the pages exactly as they are laid out in the physical paper and download pdfs of any pages you want to keep.’
        • ‘I like the way many small articles and pictures are laid out on the page so that my eye can skip from one to another.’
        • ‘The page proofs were laid out a few weeks in advance, and the minority panel convened for the last time to review them.’
        • ‘The lines are laid out as prose, although there are a few attempts at verse format on the early pages, and sentences run on without a break.’
        • ‘The book is produced in A4 format on shiny paper; it is laid out in two columns and thus looks very much like what it is: an issue of a journal captured between hard covers.’
        design, plan, set out, arrange
        View synonyms
      2. 2.2Explain something clearly and carefully.
        ‘we need a paper laying out our priorities’
        • ‘You have to lay it out for her, explain that her behaviour will end your relationship.’
        • ‘A strategy meeting was convened and the plan was laid out.’
        • ‘Any scientific theory has an exemplary case where the basic ideas and methodologies are laid out clearly and convincingly.’
        • ‘I liked the fact that he laid it out very clearly that we're going to be OK, but we're going to go after these guys.’
        • ‘‘I believe that the approach to compensation as well as the specifics are laid out clearly in proxy statements and other public documents,’ he said.’
        • ‘Caroll's book was the first thing I'd read that seemed to lay it out clearly, and contrary to what I was expecting, he wasn't a fruitcake.’
        • ‘The plans are laid out in a highly detailed 375 page document, which has been written before the organisation-wide strategic plan on which it is meant to be based.’
        • ‘Potential investors are periodically invited to watch the company perform 10-minute snatches of each property, and a business plan is laid out.’
        • ‘The basic techniques had been laid out clearly in the agronomic handbooks of Ancient Rome.’
        • ‘The plans will be laid out on Wednesday in a White Paper.’
        spread out, set out, arrange, display, exhibit, distribute, line up, order
        View synonyms
    • 3Spend a sum of money.

      ‘look at the money I had to lay out for your uniform’
      • ‘But when we come in, the cheaper it is, the better for us, because we know we're not going to have to lay out so much money.’
      • ‘Similarly in Sligo we will never know how much money is laid out, and at the end of the day it is the ordinary ‘Joe Soap’ that goes around begging to raise money for the County Board.’
      • ‘But there are doubts about whether the two men want to lay out that amount.’
      • ‘We've spent hours of time, we've laid out money, and we'll be working at least some of the day rather than watching our son compete.’
      • ‘If the latter, then we have to wonder if consumers will be willing to lay out good money to see something they've already bought fixed properly.’
      spend, expend, pay, disburse, contribute, part with, invest, put in, devote, use up, donate, give
      View synonyms
  • lay over

    • Break one's journey.

      ‘Steven and I will lay over in New York, then fly to London’
      • ‘This is a short video showing passengers boarding a low floor trolleybus while it lays over at its city centre terminus in Basle, Switzerland.’
      • ‘August 1-2: The party runs a short distance on the river and then lays over for a day to rest and explore.’
      • ‘On the return portion of my Turkey trip I will be laid over in Istanbul until the next morning.’
      • ‘They laid over in Dublan, Mexico for a few days, then went on to Galeana, where Maria's brother and sister lived.’
  • lay up

    • Hit the ball deliberately to a lesser distance than possible, typically in order to avoid a hazard.

      ‘the conservative thing to do was lay up and settle for a five’
      • ‘And he rather sensibly played safe on the 18th by laying up short of the water and salvaging his winning par with an 88-yard wedge shot and a 12-foot putt.’
      • ‘I debated with my caddie, Stevie, about laying up.’
      • ‘If you are facing a difficult tee shot on a long or tough par 3, consider pulling out your most comfortable club and laying up.’
      • ‘I hit my drive in the fairway, laid up with a 7-iron, then hit a wedge to the back fringe.’
      • ‘If you're naturally daring, then laying up on a par 5 can be more detrimental to your psyche - and score - than going for it.’
      • ‘In fact, I laid up on every par 5 but still made a birdie each time.’
  • lay someone up

    • Put someone out of action through illness or injury.

      ‘he was laid up with the flu’
      • ‘At the time I was laid up with a freshly broken ankle, so it certainly took my mind off the pain.’
      • ‘My Uncle was laid up with an arthritic problem, but from his couch or hobbling about he would carry on renovation to his house.’
      • ‘I was laid up for 4 weeks following a hernia operation.’
      • ‘I read the first four back in 2000 when I was laid up with a nasty bronchial thing.’
      • ‘I was given a flu vaccination but it had an adverse reaction and meant I was laid up for a while.’
      • ‘Her many friends are so sorry to hear she is laid up and we all wish her a speedy recovery.’
      • ‘It was fairly serious, he lost a lot of blood and he was laid up for a long time.’
      • ‘An infection set in and Gary was laid up for another six months.’
      • ‘Five months ago, he was laid up in a hospital bed unable to move after a freak training accident on Lake Karapiro, when he was hit by a water skier.’
      • ‘The injury that laid him up for so long, and caused him to wreak revenge was self-inflicted, a result of that desperate lunge.’
      bedridden, ill in bed, confined to bed, on the sick list, out of action, out of commission, housebound, immobilized, incapacitated, injured, disabled
      View synonyms
  • lay something up

    • 2Put a ship or boat in dock or out of commission.

      ‘our boats were laid up during the winter months’
      ‘I decided to lay the boat up there’
      • ‘By the time the boat owner contacted the state, his boat had been laid up for three months, waiting for simple repairs to be completed.’
      • ‘Formerly HMS Upholder, she was the first of the four boats launched between 1986 and 1991, but by 1994 they had been laid up, with no role to play as the Cold War was over.’
      • ‘Buying a boat outright in Michigan means that a person bears the full cost of the six months that the boat is laid up for the winter instead of a fraction of the cost under boat sharing.’
    • 3Assemble plies or layers in the arrangement required for the manufacture of plywood or other laminated material.

      ‘successive plies are laid up until the desired thickness is achieved’
      • ‘Board and batten patterns are laid up using standard dimension lumber.’
      • ‘Simply put, fiberglass materials and core materials are laid up without any resin.’
      • ‘But the front wing had complex curves that could cause unexpected shifts in plies as they were laid up, resulting in weak spots.’


Old English lecgan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch leggen and German legen, also to lie.




Main definitions of lay in English

: lay1lay2lay3lay4



  • 1attributive Not ordained into or belonging to the clergy.

    ‘a lay preacher’
    • ‘So, baptism establishes the lay status of a believer by ordaining that person into the lay order.’
    • ‘But a special effort will be required if lay preaching is to bear fruit.’
    • ‘This book is intended primarily for lay study groups in Episcopal parishes and Lutheran congregations.’
    • ‘Eventually, the pope had the lay people boycott married priests and not attend Masses celebrated by them.’
    • ‘A knife to his belly had brought him to the Bowery Mission, where he continues as a lay preacher.’
    • ‘If only consultative, the lay voice will remain mostly window dressing for clerical decision makers.’
    • ‘In my opinion the church needs lay advisory boards with some teeth.’
    • ‘Therefore, if a bishop chooses to close a particular parish instead of bringing in a lay minister, he is free to do so.’
    • ‘Look for opportunities to form teams in communicating with pastors and lay people.’
    • ‘During this time Bethel has been well supported by ministers from the South Wales area, some of them retired, and by lay preachers from the locality.’
    • ‘She was training to be a lay preacher, but knew that wasn't where she wanted to be, and wasn't sure where she was going.’
    • ‘It's nice to think we might stay to help reclaim the house, but how is an ordinary lay Catholic to do that?’
    • ‘Many of its adherents promoted the individualism and lay preaching that Edwards so deplored.’
    • ‘All of these academic settings are educating the church's future lay ministers.’
    • ‘And how does it bear on the roles, lay or clerical, of women in the church?’
    • ‘Modern scholarship has done much to rescue the pastoral reputation and moral seriousness of the clergy and their lay supporters at all levels.’
    • ‘In the colonies the lay vestry emerged to help with the management of church resources and property.’
    • ‘Part of the answer, in short, is found in the array of lay ministries that are integral to most thriving parishes.’
    • ‘Even if we don't serve as lay ministers or volunteers, there is one thing we can do: pray!’
    • ‘Another characteristic of those days is that salaries for lay workers and pastors were low.’
    non-clerical, non-ordained, non-ecclesiastical, secular, temporal
    View synonyms
  • 2attributive Not having professional qualifications or expert knowledge, especially in law or medicine.

    ‘a lay member of the Health Authority’
    • ‘There are, at present, 104 members of the council, 25 of whom are lay members.’
    • ‘For a lay person, inhaled medicines are often linked to smoking or opium inhalation and is, therefore, perceived as addictive.’
    • ‘Like lay rules, most professional rules are tacit and informal and are never formally articulated.’
    • ‘Newspapers are an important source of information about the results of medical research, both for lay people and health professionals.’
    • ‘This question is as relevant to any lay person as it is to me as an expert.’
    • ‘The recently released handbook is intended to help even the lay public grasp the medicinal properties of herbs.’
    • ‘Often faculty are not clinicians but other health professionals and lay community members.’
    • ‘The process would involve an evaluation of a doctor's fitness to practise by a local revalidation group, of which one member would be a lay person.’
    • ‘They act as a filter and a translator from the expert source to the lay reader.’
    • ‘That panel will be made up of three people - a lay member and two with legal expertise.’
    • ‘One can see the appeal of such stories for experts writing for a lay audience.’
    • ‘And why are we stuck with two discrete inquiries which will not take place in public nor take evidence from lay people or racism experts?’
    • ‘That what a psychiatrist or an expert might know is not to be attributed to the lay person.’
    • ‘Some of the lay members of the council would thus like to see a council where the doctors had less power.’
    • ‘When this bill was brought in, it had the same number of lay people and professionals.’
    • ‘These arrangements are currently being actively developed and entail consultation with lay and professional advisers.’
    • ‘Imbalances in knowledge between lay people and professionals make it difficult for lay people to assess doctors' ability and competence.’
    • ‘This committee will consist of experts from a range of different disciplines, and half its members will be lay people.’
    • ‘My experience suggests that the lay member's views on legal questions, though diffidently expressed, can also sometimes be helpful.’
    • ‘Third, the talking styles of men and women have been of interest to both lay and professional persons.’
    non-professional, amateur, non-specialist, non-technical, untrained, unqualified, inexpert
    View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French lai, via late Latin from Greek laïkos, from laos ‘people’. Compare with laic.




Main definitions of lay in English

: lay1lay2lay3lay4



  • 1A short lyric or narrative poem meant to be sung.

    ‘a minstrel recited a series of lays’
    • ‘The company in the royal or noble hall provided the audience for a literature which mirrored the age: heroic lays recited by professional bards.’
    • ‘James Macpherson based his Ossianic pieces on these lays.’
    • ‘The first of the lays appeared in Blackwood's Magazine in Apr. 1843, and the volume was published in 1849.’
    • ‘Their roster of dazzling images is annually expanded by increments, as happened with bardic lays after the fall of Troy.’
    • ‘We come to the lay's treatment of the third type: the woman, as represented by the wife.’
    • ‘In no other of Marie's lays is the roster of personages so heavily weighted toward a single gender.’
    1. 1.1literary A song.
      ‘on his lips there died the cheery lay’


Middle English: from Old French lai, corresponding to Provençal lais, of unknown origin.




Main definitions of lay in English

: lay1lay2lay3lay4