Main definitions of lie in English

: lie1lie2



  • 1(of a person or animal) be in or assume a horizontal or resting position on a supporting surface.

    ‘the body lay face downwards on the grass’
    ‘I had to lie down because I was groggy’
    ‘Lily lay back on the pillows and watched him’
    • ‘His arms were bound to the surface he was lying on and so were his legs.’
    • ‘Today she lay on her back and looked up at the gray sky through the twisted branches of the oak.’
    • ‘She was lying on her bed, supported by her left arm as the right one flipped through magazines.’
    • ‘She lies on an empty avenue overlooked by curious streetlights.’
    • ‘When they finally made their way upstairs, Kate lay down on the bed and didn't resurface the rest of the night.’
    • ‘Instead, I'm just staring blankly at the metal ceiling trying to keep my head empty whilst lying on the mattress.’
    • ‘When they detect a predator, chicks either lay low in the nest and remain still, or lie on their backs and strike at the predator with their talons.’
    • ‘You'll lie here and rest until the young master recommends otherwise for you!’
    • ‘It would happen even when she was lying on her bed trying to rest.’
    • ‘The sun had been beating fiercely down on her tear-streaked face as she saw her father lying there, dead.’
    • ‘By 11.30 pm, my stomach was growling and I was lying horizontal on the sofa yawning, as she made mention yet again of leaving.’
    • ‘I was lying down to rest for a moment, and I must have drifted off.’
    • ‘The next time, he was lying dead in Bradford Royal Infirmary.’
    • ‘Subjects were asked to lie on a support surface, positioning their left heel on the end cell of a support surface.’
    • ‘Instead, Chelsea finds her mother lying on the bed, her back supported by pillows to prop her up into a seated position.’
    • ‘He had no idea how long he had been lying there, or how long he could have remained there before anyone came.’
    • ‘She cried out in pain and frustration, and remained where she lay.’
    • ‘But lying there in that empty bedroom told me exactly what kind of girl I was, and what kind of girl I would never be.’
    • ‘She was lying, asleep we assumed, on the carpet outside our bedroom door.’
    • ‘The dead woman lies cold and serene on a formal bier.’
    recline, lie down, lie back, be recumbent, be prostrate, be supine, be prone, be stretched out, stretch oneself out, lean back, sprawl, rest, repose, relax, lounge, loll, bask
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1(of a thing) rest flat on a surface.
      ‘a book lay open on the table’
      • ‘On the desk under the palm of her left hand lay a black book, a fairly thick one at that.’
      • ‘Eventually, as she got older, the bank book lay unused in a drawer.’
      • ‘Flip the pad on a preacher bench so your chest and abs rest on the inclined side and your arms lie along the flat, vertical side.’
      • ‘Forty or fifty feet before it lay the broken remains of a section of stone wall that had been erected there, possibly as a target.’
      • ‘It's now that I notice the empty liquor bottles, lying broken on the floor.’
      • ‘Make sure the paper flange and the staples lie flat against the board, to create an even surface for attaching the finished wall material.’
      • ‘Beer bottles and cups were scattered about the room and a pizza box lay open on the table.’
      • ‘This roomy yet compact bag lies flat, with adjustable compartments and a mesh opening for ventilation.’
      • ‘She stepped closer to the bed where the open suitcase lay, picking up a pearl necklace.’
      • ‘Only one thing lay there, a small black leather bound address book.’
      • ‘For example the boot can take a child buggy and golf clubs, both items lying flat on the floor, between the rear wheel arches, without having to utilise the folding seat facility.’
      • ‘Her eyes grew accustomed to the starlight and she spotted her own shadow lying on the surface.’
      • ‘To cook asparagus, remove the woody ends first and peel part way up if the stalks are tough, then place in a skillet where the stalks can lie flat.’
      • ‘Then during a lull in the sickening waves of withdrawal, he noticed a pack of book matches lying on one of the flat, iron crosspieces between the bars.’
      • ‘The emptied wax wrapper of a disposable cardboard bento box lay next to his sprawled mass.’
      • ‘The river had come over its banks several times more since the big flood, and was up again today, and heavy rainfall lay on the surface rather than draining away.’
      • ‘He circled around the machine to where a sole book lay on a work surface.’
      • ‘The walls were made of stone and a small pallet lay by two book cases.’
      • ‘With eyes sharpened by experience, a senior member of the team has spotted remains lying beneath a felled palm tree.’
      • ‘The romance novel lay on Eva's boudoir dresser, open and ragged from her wear-and-tear for the last week and a half.’
      be placed, be set, be situated, be positioned, rest, repose, be
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2(of a dead person) be buried in a particular place.
      ‘his body lies in a crypt’
      ‘his epitaph reads ‘Here lies Garcia, King of Galicia and Portugal’’
      • ‘A large Celtic Cross stands in the middle of the plot and there too many of the Jones Family lay at rest underneath.’
      • ‘For more than 400 years, the remains of James Hepburn, the 4th Earl of Bothwell, have lain in a Danish church where they were turned into a grisly tourist attraction.’
      • ‘He lies among the remains of pontiffs from centuries past and near the tomb traditionally believed to be of the Apostle Peter, the first pope.’
      • ‘The corpses were left where they lay pending forensic examination today.’
      be buried, be interred, be laid to rest, rest, be entombed
      View synonyms
  • 2Be, remain, or be kept in a specified state.

    ‘the abbey lies in ruins today’
    ‘putting homeless families into private houses that would otherwise lie empty’
    • ‘The body was taken from the villa up the hillside, where it lay for a night in the church.’
    • ‘His remains, which lay undisturbed for 59 years, have been found in a swamp near the town of Nieuw Chappelle, along with the wreckage of his plane.’
    • ‘For 170 years Ballina's Augustinian Abbey has lain derelict and inconspicuous at the bottom of Ardnaree near St Muredach's Cathedral.’
    • ‘The writings specify an abbey that has lain unused for a century, and that is what this is.’
    • ‘The original hospital buildings date back to the 1850s, but the site has lain empty for nearly five years while the Clements Park estate has grown up around it.’
    • ‘And, in some winter scenes, the landscapes lie still and silent as though waiting for the ice and snow to melt.’
    • ‘Other times, the water lies still and flat, reflecting the blaze of sunset and sunrise.’
    • ‘After all, there would be no point in saving a building just for it to lie empty and rot.’
    • ‘As a child I wandered through it when it lay silent and empty.’
    • ‘Number thirty-two had lain empty for over a year, and its unlocked garage acted as our unofficial gang headquarters for dirty deeds and general hiding from parents.’
    • ‘Situated on the outskirts of Ballybunion, this church was built in 1930 and has now been lying idle and in a general state of disrepair for over three decades.’
    1. 2.1(of something abstract) reside or be found.
      ‘the solution lies in a return to traditional values’
      • ‘The power of art lies not in its surface beauty but in its quality of inducing self-reflection.’
      • ‘Similarly, our comedies season is not just about laughter, but the yearning for harmony and reconciliation which lies at the heart of Shakespeare's great comedies.’
      • ‘The heroic prototype is considerably watered down and herein lies the crux of the problem.’
      • ‘The truth lies somewhere between these two extremes - although closer to the pro side than the con.’
      • ‘The answer, of course, does not lie within the hallowed halls of government, finance or business.’
      • ‘To perform the operation with pencil and paper one must start with the million or so numbers among which the solution is known to lie.’
      • ‘The answer lies somewhere between these two extremes.’
      • ‘Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the fact that the world is imperfect and gets more so every day.’
      • ‘Where there is trouble to be enacted, they lie at its bitter heart.’
      • ‘While an accurate prediction is near impossible, the attention of many in the market is now turning to the subject that lies at the heart of economic performance: consumer confidence.’
      • ‘In spite of these reform measures that favor the implementation of integration, a number of challenges still lie ahead.’
      • ‘The Belgian band encapsulated the friendly spirit of fraternity that lies at the heart of folk.’
      • ‘It's the coming together with a common purpose of two such different men that lies at the heart of his novel.’
      • ‘The solution, of course, may not lie inside the churches at all.’
      • ‘The answer lies just ahead in what many are calling the interview of the century.’
      • ‘Therein lies the rub for those who would curb latte consumption with pocketbook reasoning.’
      • ‘The real blame lies at the feet of the people who profit from this carnage.’
      • ‘Do one's loyalties lie on one side, the other, or somehow on both?’
      • ‘Imaginary resources, in the form of sovereign rents and aid flows, lie at the heart of the impasse.’
      • ‘As ever, a painting freezes a moment and expression in time and has the viewer wondering what story lies beneath the surface.’
      consist, be inherent, inhere, be present, be contained, exist, reside, have its being, have its existence
      View synonyms
  • 3(of a place) be situated in a specified position or direction.

    ‘Kexby lies about five miles due east of York’
    • ‘The fact that Grange lies ten miles north of Sligo town means it is never likely to be considered a suburb of the town, which is just fine for the many people who call Grange home.’
    • ‘The village lies five miles east of Ilfracombe in a valley that runs from the north-western edge of the Exmoor upland down to the Bristol Channel.’
    • ‘On a Salmon River tributary downstream from Francis' place lies the site of the old mining town of Florence.’
    • ‘I consider however that a means of overcoming the problem should be feasible although it may involve land lying between the appeal site and the river that is not in the control of the appellant.’
    • ‘And it lies within a stone's throw of the most intensively used footpath on the North York Moors.’
    • ‘The town of Shanhaiguan lies on a five mile sliver of plain between mountains and sea, a pass that opens like an avenue into the heart of China.’
    • ‘Besides, the port lies just 10 nautical miles from the international shipping route.’
    • ‘At Nagaon, it lies within a palm grove and is about an eight-minute walk from the Nagaon Beach - a complete horticulture project.’
    • ‘Still, the reef can be safely explored from dozens of places along the Queensland coast, where it lies within a couple of hours' boat trip from the shore.’
    • ‘As Newry's push for city status reaches fever pitch, a forgotten city lies merely 10 miles away from the frontier town.’
    • ‘Taxis are available for the ride into town, which lies just three miles away.’
    • ‘The proposed site for the centre lies between the Airport Road and the Burma Road.’
    • ‘The top of the Kimmeridge Clay Formation lies within the more widely used, but poorly constrained, Tithonian Stage.’
    • ‘The town of Whistler lies 15 miles away, just over the summit of 7,639-foot Rainbow Mountain.’
    • ‘As a matter of etiquette, York and Ainsty South had to give permission for hounds from other hunts to attend, as York Minster lies within its area.’
    • ‘Culturally integrated but politically separate, the United States Territory of Guam lies thirty miles farther south at the bottom of the chain.’
    • ‘The city lies 100 miles south of the U.S. border in Baja, California.’
    • ‘The Aral Sea lies within Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.’
    • ‘Bishop's Crossing is a small village lying ten miles in a south-westerly direction from Liverpool.’
    • ‘The neutral locus lies at two different positions between two selected loci.’
    be situated, be located, be placed, be positioned, be found, be sited, be established, be
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1(of a scene) extend from the observer's viewpoint in a specified direction.
      ‘stand here, and all of Amsterdam lies before you’
      • ‘An open door lay beyond them and Chris could see the first few steps of the staircase that would lead him to the top floor.’
      • ‘Wind whistled against the hole in the back wall, which heightened the eerie effect of the scene which lay before them.’
    2. 3.2British (of a competitor or team) be in a specified position during a competition or within a group.
      ‘United are currently lying in fifth place’
      • ‘After five matches the town lies 6th place overall out of a total of 8 towns.’
      • ‘On Wednesday night, against a team lying fifth in the Portuguese league, United made their earliest exit from the Champions League in a decade.’
      • ‘The Cape Town team is currently lying mid-table and will be desperate to prove their cup success last season was no fluke.’
      • ‘New Earswick will be anxious to avoid a sluggish start against Dewsbury Moor, who have just one win from their opening five games and lie just one place off the bottom.’
      • ‘Currently lying 12 th in the league, they still harbour hopes of a play-off push but have been hindered by a failure to go on and win games.’
      • ‘They have the tenth best goal-scoring record and the twelfth best defensive record, suggesting the team should be lying mid-table rather than sixteenth.’
      • ‘Currently lying 15th in the championship, Dean is confident of rising through the ranks as the 18-race season progresses.’
      • ‘They currently lie 8th in the Northern Counties East League, first division.’
      • ‘The first team currently lie mid-table in the York and District League division one, while the reserves prop up reserve ‘B’.’
      • ‘Workington currently lie next to bottom in the league table with just two victories and a draw from their nine games.’
  • 4Law
    (of an action, charge, or claim) be admissible or sustainable.

    ‘an action for restitution would lie for money paid in breach of the law’
    • ‘Where the injury to the claimant is caused as a result of his especially sensitive activity, no claim will lie.’
    • ‘He said that the Crown Prosecution Service accepted the pleas and would ask for the rape charge to lie on the file after sentence.’
    • ‘Prerogative remedies for criminal charges will not ordinarily lie where an appeal is available.’
    • ‘Before the judge and before us there was some debate whether such a claim lies for breach of fiduciary duty generally or only those which also involve the misapplication of property.’
    • ‘Where a policy provides cover against one of two or more concurrent causes of a casualty, a claim will lie under the policy provided that there is no relevant exclusion.’


  • 1The way, direction, or position in which something lies.

    ‘he was familiarizing himself with the lie of the streets’
    • ‘With the lie of Scottish theatreland already shifting, we are seeing a nascent, semiconscious shuffling for position for next year's awards.’
    • ‘Look, the last thing that a star wants is to disrupt the lie of a dress by eating a cheeseburger before a show.’
    • ‘You have been invited to play a new golf course and now want to find out more about it, perhaps even ‘walk’ the course in advance of your game or visualise the lie of the greens.’
    • ‘You should brush along the lie of the hair, and in the places hardest for the cat to reach such as under the chin and the back of the neck.’
    • ‘Then, too, I am scared of tying too much money up here, not being entirely sure where the lie of the politics is.’
    1. 1.1Golf The position in which a golf ball comes to rest, especially as regards the ease of the next shot.
      ‘the lie, in deep rough on a bank, was not good’
      • ‘She decides to play the shot anyway, because the lie is so good.’
      • ‘As the lie gets deeper, the ball automatically goes farther back in your stance.’
      • ‘Change the lie and the shot to keep your mind engaged.’
      • ‘You can play this shot off any lie, even bare ground if your wedge has minimal bounce.’
      • ‘If the heel is up then well-struck shots will go right, and the lie needs to be more upright to correct.’
    2. 1.2The lair or place of cover of an animal.


The verb lie is often confused with the verb lay, giving rise to incorrect uses such as he is laying on the bed (correct use is he is lying on the bed) or why don't you lie it on the bed? (correct use is why don't you lay it on the bed?). See lay


  • let something lie

    • Take no action regarding a problematic matter.

      ‘‘Are you planning a follow-up to the programme?’ ‘No, we'll let it lie for now.’’
      • ‘He said last night that he would not let the matter lie and that he would make an official complaint as it was a clear breach of the rules.’
      • ‘As such I am prepared to let the matter lie for the time being.’
      • ‘On the part of the wife it arose from her conscious decision to let matters lie for a considerable period of time.’
      • ‘Todd said he would not be letting the matter lie.’
      • ‘Failing to receive any guidance from the committee, he reluctantly let the matter lie.’
      • ‘At that point there was no opportunity of changing them but the team captain chose not to let the matters lie but instead continued to agitate about them, particularly in the newspaper article.’
      • ‘Almost 18 months since the smoke cleared in Genoa, cinema refuses to let the matter lie.’
      • ‘Having done so in 1993 and having been told to get lost, he had essentially let matters lie.’
      • ‘Therefore, I would be pleased it you would let the matter lie, as it now is.’
      • ‘I much prefer a gracious, magnanimous withdrawal, but if it is beyond that member to do such a thing, then we will let it lie where it lies, and will deal with it in public.’
  • lie heavy on one

    • Cause one to feel troubled or uncomfortable.

      ‘it was the loss of human life that lay heavy on him’
      • ‘At night the stars lay heavy on me, but I'd be stuffed if I'd ever say something like that to anyone.’
      • ‘Our relationship, now infected with deceit, lay heavy on me.’
      trouble, worry, bother, torment, oppress, nag, prey on one's mind, plague, niggle at, gnaw at, haunt
      be a burden to, burden, press down on, weigh down, be a great weight on, weigh heavily on someone's mind, cause anxiety to
      bug, aggravate
      View synonyms
  • lie in state

    • (of the corpse of a person of national importance) be laid in a public place of honour before burial.

      ‘the candlelit chapel where the king's body lay in state’
      • ‘And there is his body lying in state, in repose in the main lobby of the Reagan Presidential Library.’
      • ‘Millions are expected to pass by his body as it lies in state, and there will be considerable numbers attending his funeral.’
      • ‘Two days after the pope died his body is tonight lying in state in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.’
      • ‘And then at 8: 30 Eastern tomorrow night, the body will lie in state for the public.’
      • ‘Poles seem undeterred by the shortage of hotel beds at their destination, the massive queue lining up to see the Pope's body lying in state and the crush of fellow pilgrims that will greet them on their arrival.’
      • ‘For eight decades he has been lying in state on public display, a cadaver in a succession of dark suits, encased in a glass box beside a walkway in the basement of his granite mausoleum.’
      • ‘The body will then lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda so that the public will be able to pay tribute to him.’
      • ‘First, though, the pope's body is lying in state for private viewing in the apostolic palace in the Vatican.’
      • ‘The body lies in state for the nine days during the funeral masses.’
      • ‘She was paying her last respects to former US president Ronald Reagan whose body was today lying in state in Washington.’
  • lie low

    • (especially of a criminal) keep out of sight; avoid detection or attention.

      ‘at the time of the murder he appears to have been lying low in a barn’
      • ‘If the criminal was found lying low for a protracted period, the surveillance would automatically be lessened.’
      • ‘Since they are flying mostly at night (back in those early days of the war), our main challenge is to lie low and take cover while letting them hit those empty barracks or the dummies.’
      • ‘Stay here, lie low, and do nothing to attract any attention whatsoever, do you understand?’
      • ‘Overhead, German spotters were looking for us, and I promised the men we would lie low, keep out of sight, and sleep.’
      • ‘The New York glitterati may just be lying low, conscious that the sight of them enjoying nights out on the town, knocking back $5,000 bottles of wine, would be considered offensive in the current climate.’
      • ‘This crow skulked and cowered up to the buzzard, sometimes lying low to the ground, sometimes popping up into the air, always trying to stay behind the enemy.’
      • ‘This keen perception also alerts them when it's time to lay low and avoid trouble.’
      • ‘Successfully escaping, she decides to lay low and hides in a locker room in the building next door.’
      • ‘And, in the more likely event that he's simply lying low, plotting his mode of attack, we have the backup plan.’
      • ‘Finally, three of them drifted away, strolling off in different directions, most likely intending to hide or lay low till five o'clock.’
      hide, go into hiding, hide out, find a hiding place, conceal oneself, keep out of sight, keep a low profile, take cover, go to earth, go to ground, go underground, cover one's tracks, lurk, skulk
      hole up
      lie doggo
      View synonyms
  • take something lying down

    • [usually with negative]Accept an insult, setback, or rebuke without protest.

      ‘she's laughing at me for being weak and I'm not going to take it lying down any longer’
      • ‘But, at least along the province's South Shore, folks are not taking things lying down.’
      • ‘Congressional wildlife supporters didn't take the ambush lying down.’
      • ‘Right now, some critical favorites are on the endangered list, and fans are not taking it lying down.’
      • ‘Fortunately, companies are not taking it lying down.’
      • ‘Neither the newspaper nor the rest of the press took it lying down.’
      • ‘At least she isn't taking his attacks lying down.’
      • ‘The visitors refused to take this setback lying down and almost immediately forced a corner.’
      • ‘He explained the college was not taking the news lying down and was working hard to repackage courses, such as offering alternatives that may not have an exam at the end.’
      • ‘The magazine isn't taking her comments lying down, however.’
      • ‘This was never the kind of game where players took things lying down.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • lie ahead

    • Be going to happen.

      ‘I'm excited by what lies ahead’
      • ‘I would add that the conference's refined dialogue and inquiry did not blunt the prickly sense of more image-trouble lying ahead.’
      • ‘Her determination, which brought her riches, will see her through what lies ahead.’
      • ‘At that time no-one was thinking of the unknown lying ahead.’
      • ‘Why has God cursed me with such a gift, to see what lies ahead in a town with such hardships and pain ahead?’
      • ‘Unfortunately, there is no end in sight, though the roadmap suggests that something vague lies ahead.’
      • ‘Aslan, the great lion, is the only creature that can protect them from the terrifying danger that lies ahead.’
      • ‘And yet for all the uncertainty regarding what lies ahead, would City supporters want it any different?’
      • ‘‘I think there are big problems lying ahead and one day those donor countries will wake up,’ he says.’
      • ‘Surely a new horizon lies ahead for all of us should we remain on track with our commitment towards making this dream a reality.’
      • ‘But even with that success there are still many challenges lying ahead.’
  • lie around/about

    • 1(of an object) be left carelessly out of place.

      ‘I became irritated at the pills and potions lying around the house’
      • ‘Too many innocent lives are lost owing to power cables left lying around carelessly.’
      • ‘Don't leave dangerous nuclear materials lying around unguarded in a war zone?’
      • ‘You usually find that the secretary to the head salesperson has a few catalogues lying around on her desk and she can sometimes be persuaded to send you one.’
      • ‘Parents fear children are being put at risk from discarded needles left lying around at two different locations in York city centre.’
      • ‘Well, it's symptomatic of the fact that there was a lot of weapons lying around.’
      • ‘There were many cloths and bottles lying around, and there was no one standing around.’
      • ‘Big, dirty green and around the size of footballs they lay around till late evening when the courtyard is cleaned for the procession.’
      • ‘However, the dashboard is made of stuff that they had lying around.’
      • ‘I did consider having a quick rake around to see if anything significant was lying around, but thought better of it.’
      • ‘Do not leave keys lying around in sight of windows, either.’
      1. 1.1(of a person) pass the time lazily or aimlessly.
        ‘you all just lay around all day on your backsides, didn't you?’
        • ‘Rocky would sit around and be disgusting, while Adam would lie around and not care, creating a dysfunctional harmony.’
        • ‘Well, what do you wear for lying around in the afternoons eating bon bons and teasing delivery boys?’
        • ‘So we're home today, lying around in bed and groaning a lot.’
        • ‘I'd basically lie around and wait for it to pass.’
        • ‘He's at his happiest just lying around the conservatory at home.’
        • ‘No one came over, no one went out, and we just lied around and hung out as a family.’
        • ‘I noticed this last week when I was lying around disconsolately feeling ill.’
        • ‘Instead, relaxing, lying around in bed, going out and eating nice food was the order of the day.’
  • lie behind

    • Be the real, often hidden, reason for (something)

      ‘a subtle strategy lies behind such silly claims’
      • ‘With regards to case law in particular, further reasons lie behind the motivation to its widespread distribution.’
      • ‘The reasons that lie behind this unsurpassed forging of great language are open to debate.’
      • ‘Ethics has been described as the systematic study of moral choices; it concerns the values that lie behind them, the reasons people give for them and the language used to describe them.’
      • ‘They may also ‘unmask’ the hidden agendas that lie behind politicians' activities and speeches.’
      • ‘Some unknown reason lay behind his absence but no-one in his office could say what.’
      • ‘They're exposing the hidden stories that lie behind such killings: stories about property, money and unpaid loans.’
      • ‘So you can't tell what reasons lie behind terror attacks.’
      • ‘A variety of reasons lie behind the successful spread of football around the world, and FIFA's promotion of the game has been central.’
      • ‘He wants to search our inner lives so that we can see the hidden thoughts, attitudes, fears, and desires that lie behind the things we do.’
      • ‘But more prosaic reasons may lie behind the decision - if such a decision has been taken.’
  • lie in

    • 1Remain in bed after the normal time for getting up.

      ‘if I'm not due anywhere I'll lie in until something kick-starts the day’
      1. 1.1archaic (of a pregnant woman) go to bed to give birth.
        ‘five hungry children, and a wife lying in of a sixth’
  • lie off

    • (of a ship) stand some distance from shore or from another ship.

  • lie over

    • Break one's journey.

      ‘we'll lie over in New York, then fly to London’
  • lie to

    • (of a ship) come almost to a stop with its head towards the wind.

  • lie up

    • (of a ship) go into dock or be out of commission.

  • lie with

    • 1(of a responsibility) be attributable to (someone)

      ‘ultimate responsibility for the violence lies with the President’
      • ‘In Ilkley, the responsibility for 30 sites lies with only sixteen people.’
      • ‘The upgrade of roads linking Carlow town to these junctions is not regarded as part of the overall scheme, with responsibility for these roads lying with Carlow County Council should the need for their upgrade arise.’
      • ‘The burden of proof lies with the customs service to prove the goods were to be sold commercially, the court said.’
      • ‘The responsibility lies with everyone whether they understand or not.’
      • ‘He is right to say that the problem does not, at its root, lie with individual teachers and their prejudices.’
      • ‘The roots of this tradition lie with the western, heterosexual androcentric values of the 19th century prescriptive grammar movement.’
      • ‘A great responsibility lies with the elected members of both local assemblies.’
      • ‘As for contributing comments, the responsibility lies with each posting entity.’
      • ‘Some blame her, some blame her adversaries on the board, while others see the responsibility as lying with all of the warring parties.’
      • ‘It does not lie with the State Services Commissioner and certainly not with the Minister.’
    • 2Have sexual intercourse with.

      ‘if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife’
      • ‘She could hear Charles in the adjoining bathroom; his very presence sickened her, she knew she would not be able to bear lying with him, particularly with her last night with Will so fresh in her mind.’
      • ‘He said it would be better to kill the grown women, and save just ‘the young girls who have not known man by lying with him.’’
      • ‘First, notice that this passage says absolutely nothing about a woman lying with a woman.’
      • ‘They deflowered themselves upon the carved phalli of Hermes, Tutunus, Priapus or some other ‘anointed’ god before lying with their bridegrooms.’


Old English licgan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch liggen and German liegen, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek lektron, lekhos and Latin lectus bed.




Main definitions of lie in English

: lie1lie2



  • 1An intentionally false statement.

    ‘they hint rather than tell outright lies’
    ‘the whole thing is a pack of lies’
    • ‘They tell lies, they give false addresses, they even take out temporary accommodation in the area.’
    • ‘And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.’
    • ‘It was as if everything I believed in was proved, in one revealing second, to be false, lies.’
    • ‘But when you live a false life, the lies are all you have to keep you honest.’
    • ‘We make things too easy for ourselves if we regard such a statement as a barefaced lie.’
    • ‘In the absence of such a consequence, the statement is a lie.’
    • ‘This is a farce, a cruel hoax, a pack of lies, a fraud.’
    • ‘But, on the merits, what he says in between is just flat-out false, a lie.’
    • ‘It implies that everything up until now has been a pack of lies.’
    • ‘The above was, of course, a pack of lies designed to illustrate the fact that fox hunting is not a sport.’
    • ‘She was bold, brave and was able to get herself out of almost any situation through quick lies and witty deceptions.’
    • ‘Accordingly, you resort to false premises, lies and diversionary tactics.’
    • ‘This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars.’
    • ‘They can be made by a young conscript who chooses to tell her family about the horrors to which she contributed, rather than maintain the silent lie of false heroism.’
    • ‘I was appalled at the political mileage that was made out of a pack of lies told about desperate people in need.’
    • ‘It is largely a pack of lies but it is an ingeniously presented pack of lies.’
    • ‘I needn't remind you that this is the very same society that shackles them with its false smile and pristine lies and acts as a drug for the braindead masses.’
    • ‘Soon I would be thrust into the upper-class whirlwind of lies and false smiles.’
    • ‘The first statement is an honest-to-goodness lie, the last a half truth.’
    • ‘The ingredients are fear, pejorative statements, secrecy, lies, a bought press and economic uncertainty.’
    untruth, falsehood, fib, fabrication, deception, made-up story, trumped-up story, invention, piece of fiction, fiction, falsification, falsity, fairy story, fairy tale, cock and bull story, barefaced lie
    half-truth, exaggeration, prevarication, departure from the truth
    yarn, story, red herring, fable, myth, flight of fancy, figment of the imagination
    pretence, pretext, sham
    misinformation, disinformation, perjury, dissimulation, mendacity, gossip, propaganda
    tall story, tall tale, whopper
    porky, pork pie, porky pie
    terminological inexactitude
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Used with reference to a situation involving deception or founded on a mistaken impression.
      ‘all their married life she had been living a lie’
      • ‘There is no greater stress than that of running from our past or living a lie.’
      • ‘It encouraged me to live deceitfully; I enjoyed living a lie.’
      • ‘Years of living a lie suddenly came crashing down.’
      • ‘Last season was the one in which Scotland's top flight finally decided to be honest with itself, and admitted that for the previous few years it had been living a lie.’
      • ‘But shortly after the baptism she felt she was living a lie.’
      • ‘Though the expected laughs are still there, many of the characters have a hunted look about them, as though constantly aware that they are living a lie, either literally or emotionally.’
      • ‘Which breathtaking blonde, who married into wealth and privilege, and has one of the cutest little babies on the supermodel circuit, is living a lie?’
      • ‘I have a word of advice for Will: Be a real man, and stop living a lie.’
      • ‘It gives us the freedom of being true to ourselves and not living a lie.’
      • ‘He will become rich and famous, but in doing so he will find that it comes at the cost of living a lie.’
      • ‘After deciding not to go on living a lie, isn't she being a little economical with the truth?’
      • ‘One of them broke down crying and said she wanted to stop living a lie.’
      • ‘Ever feel like you're living a lie by not saying anything?’
      • ‘Easy to say, but I do believe that living a lie is pointless and not only hurts you but all those around you.’
      • ‘If they could be happy living a lie, than so be it.’
      • ‘Yet no one knows that he has been living a lie since arriving at Shannon Airport in 1996 with his pockets full of cash and little idea about what the future held.’
      • ‘To be forced to present themselves as if they were lay persons is for them a very painful deception; they feel that they are living a lie.’
      • ‘Eight ordinary people have left behind their regular lives to take part in the series, taking on a fake alias and living a lie.’
      • ‘In fact, I had probably been living a lie all those years.’
      • ‘‘There is a perverse sense of release once you get caught because you have been living a lie,’ he said.’


  • 1 Tell a lie or lies.

    ‘why had Ashenden lied about his visit to London?’
    [with direct speech] ‘‘I am sixty-five,’ she lied’
    • ‘They have lied, cheated and stolen - and a crime is a crime, no matter what influential social circles the criminal is fortunate enough to mix in.’
    • ‘MacLean later learned, in 1942, while he was fighting in North Africa, that the Scot had lied.’
    • ‘Those young people have deliberately lied and falsified documents, which is fraud, misuse of a document, and so on.’
    • ‘Is that suggesting that the solicitor has lied before the Tribunal?’
    • ‘But the sheriff in this case decided that the boys had lied.’
    • ‘I think most children tend to tell the truth, particularly if it's in their best interests not to lie or fabricate.’
    • ‘So the survivors lied and hid their guilty secret and trauma.’
    • ‘If we do, that would be tantamount to lying, deceit or unprofessionalism.’
    • ‘Yet there is scant evidence that doctors targeted by these organizations have lied on the stand.’
    • ‘Given that so many men in her life have lied, cheated on her and tried to sell stories about her, she would be forgiven for becoming just a bit cynical.’
    • ‘The police later lied and said he had damaged the bus.’
    • ‘Under these circumstances, you would surely say that your friend had lied: what he had said was false.’
    • ‘Mary, how long did it take for them to come forward after the end of that trial and to learn that one of their own witnesses had lied?’
    • ‘At every stage he has lied, prevaricated and obstructed this process of disarmament.’
    • ‘Australian authorities have lied or dissembled for 21 months about this.’
    • ‘No one in the court bothered to think that the witnesses could be lying and presenting false testimonies.’
    • ‘If neither player lied, or if both players lied, assign the penalties to the Chooser and his Partner as prescribed in the basic game.’
    • ‘Both these people have lied and manipulated people through the press to believe one facade after another in order to get whatever it is they want…’
    • ‘The people lied, betrayed one another, and frequently tried to kill each other.’
    • ‘Three have deliberately lied; two have never been interviewed to this day.’
    say something untrue, tell an untruth, tell a lie, tell a falsehood, fib, fabricate, invent a story, make up a story, falsify, dissemble, dissimulate, bear false witness
    tell a white lie, prevaricate, exaggerate, stretch the truth
    perjure oneself, commit perjury, forswear oneself, be forsworn
    bluff, pretend, depart from the truth
    deceive, delude, mislead, trick, hoodwink, hoax, take in, lead astray, throw off the scent, send on a wild goose chase, put on the wrong track, pull the wool over someone's eyes
    lie through one's teeth, con
    be economical with the truth, tell a terminological inexactitude
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Get oneself into or out of a situation by lying.
      ‘you lied your way on to this voyage by implying you were an experienced crew’
      • ‘We claim that we are friends, and yet we keep secrets from each other, lying our way out of most everything.’
      • ‘You can't lie your way out of this one… your true colors were exposed before my eyes…’
      • ‘And there is great irony in a man obviously trying to lie his way out of this while pretending to be a man of God.’
      • ‘I tried to lie my way out of it, but I quickly realized there was no getting out of it.’
      • ‘But I had to find some way of lying my way out of this.’
      • ‘Thanks for putting this up, but it does sound like Jordan's trying to lie his way out of the hole he dug with his own mouth.’
      • ‘He said that in the immediate aftermath of the accident, he had been ‘shocked enough to tell lies but not the truth… you found a way that you could lie your way out of it’.’
      • ‘The chances of lying your way into a job and remaining unsuspected and undetected have become slimmer.’
      • ‘I don't know if I'd recommend lying your way into good writing habits, but it worked for me.’
      • ‘She released confidential information on someone dealing with her Ministry, then tried to lie her way out of it.’
      • ‘And when they can't lie their way out of a jam, they send their minions to ‘correct’ the electronic record, and to make sure the originals are safely flushed down the memory hole.’
      • ‘Anyone that tells you otherwise or promises great results in just a few days or even weeks is either unqualified or lying their way into stealing your money.’
      • ‘I'd love to hear you try to lie your way out of this one!’
      • ‘We can never lie our way out of responsibility for the decisions we have made.’
      • ‘When I was a child, I would lie my way out of any situation.’
      • ‘I'm just saying you lied your way out of that one.’
      • ‘She knew that we would not survive if the Nazis found us again, so she took her chances at lying her way out of the country.’
      • ‘I pretty much lied my way out of there, just so I could get home and hurt myself again.’
      • ‘My mother did get suspicious, but I lied my way out of it.’
      • ‘The writers of these shows cannot let an episode pass without coercing a confession or lying their way into an illegal search.’
    2. 1.2(of a thing) present a false impression.
      ‘the camera cannot lie’


  • give the lie to

    • Serve to show that (something previously assumed to be the case) is not true.

      ‘these figures give the lie to the notion that Britain is excessively strike-ridden’
      • ‘This, and other, exceptions to a ‘true’ meritocracy give the lie to protestations that merit admissions are in fact the order of the day at the Nation's universities.’
      • ‘That view may be one of the most compelling right now but a view it remains, giving the lie to any contrastive image of redemption by representing every antidote as another potential toxin.’
      • ‘‘The Minister for Education has spoken at length about his commitment to tackling education disadvantage but his treatment of this issue gives the lie to that,’ she said.’
      • ‘If there's one thing guaranteed to give the lie to that ‘friends are the new family’ mantra, then it's holiday time.’
      • ‘It emerged as an exceptionally complex picture, but the one thing that seems clear is that it gives the lie to simplistically doctrinaire attempts to define late Titian.’
      • ‘Evidence of his later life, and his lively presence on the screen, gave the lie to that.’
      • ‘These figures give the lie to claims that Australia cannot afford increased defence spending.’
      • ‘A visit to the F1 paddock soon gives the lie to that: most team owners and drivers now arrive at the circuit by private jet or helicopter.’
      • ‘Bucking the national trend, 82 per cent of voters turned out, giving the lie to all the talk of voter apathy.’
      • ‘If things go on unchanged, by 2007 that disease will be incurable and give the lie to all our aspirations.’
      disprove, contradict, negate, deny, refute, rebut, gainsay, belie, invalidate, prove to be false, show to be false, explode, discredit, debunk, quash, knock the bottom out of, drive a coach and horses through
      challenge, call into question
      shoot full of holes
      controvert, confute, negative
      View synonyms
  • i tell a lie (or that's a lie)

    • informal Used to correct oneself immediately when one realizes that one has made an incorrect remark.

      ‘I never used to dream—I tell a lie, I did dream when I was little’
      • ‘Actually that's a lie; I've seen daughter #3 covet some of the things in that shop and she's almost 19!’
      • ‘We are so jealous of you; well actually that's a lie.’
      • ‘Actually, that's a lie - we managed to establish that we both love liquorice.’
      • ‘Wait, I tell a lie - the youngest is only about ninety-seven, I should think.’
      • ‘No, wait, I tell a lie, I'll be back there next month.’
      • ‘Actually, that's a lie, I returned to York on Monday night but this is the first time I've actually sat down at my computer to go through my e-mails.’
      • ‘No I tell a lie, I actually thought about making pancakes, my folks have gone away to Ilfracombe for the weekend leaving me and my brother to fend for ourselves, but then couldn't be bothered.’
      • ‘Okay, I tell a lie; I recognised it as Tartan Day.’
      • ‘Okay, I tell a lie, that's not his only purpose in life.’
      • ‘No, I tell a lie, Mother's day just beats it.’
  • lie through one's teeth

    • informal Tell an outright lie without remorse.

      ‘‘Don't worry, Lavender, you'll soon catch up’, Miss Honey said, lying through her teeth’
      • ‘And if they tell you they don't, they're lying through their teeth.’
      • ‘I myself have changed so much in the recent past that I would be lying through my teeth if I told you I knew what I was all about.’
      • ‘I had until then in my life not thought I was capable of such dishonesty, had probably never told more than a handful of fibs in my 40 years and here I was lying through my teeth at every turn.’
      • ‘Their continued obfuscation, their attempts to throw dust in people's eyes, leads me to believe that they're lying through their teeth.’
      • ‘The Council are lying through their teeth on this issue and I'm still not convinced that someone cannot be held criminally responsible for all this.’
      • ‘One of these groups of men are lying through their teeth.’
      • ‘But then, lying through your teeth and being caught out is never a terrific PR conquest.’
      • ‘‘Oh, but I make more sense than you do,’ I said, lying through my teeth.’
      • ‘Ask me any more questions, and I'll start lying through my teeth.’
      • ‘You'd be able to tell that I'm lying through my teeth.’


Old English lyge (noun), lēogan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch liegen and German lügen.