Main definitions of lay in English

: lay1lay2lay3lay4



  • 1[with object] Put down, especially gently or carefully.

    ‘she laid the baby in his crib’
    • ‘Liza smiled gently, laying her cheek against his chest.’
    • ‘Sasha laid his new sister carefully in the playpen that had been erected in the corner of the living room.’
    • ‘He lays a hand gently on my shoulder, stretching his arm further round my back when I do not push him away.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I did as she told me, and she laid the boy gently on my arms.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Colt lays his hand gently on her shoulder in solidarity.’
    • ‘He laid the gun gently on the stool next to her plate.’
    • ‘Becca carefully laid the last pieces of her clarinet in their places and snapped the case shut.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Softly and carefully she removed each jewel that kept her hair in place before laying it gently on her lap.’
    • ‘She gently laid the pills next to it and waited for her brother to answer.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I frown and move closer to him, laying my hand gently on his shoulder.’
    • ‘Vincent sighed laying an arm gently over my shoulder.’
    • ‘She reached out and laid a hand gently on his elbow, and her eyes were soft.’
    • ‘The dog whined and gently laid its head into her lap.’
    • ‘I gently laid my hands upon her shoulders and heard her quiet tears.’
    • ‘He laid the peasant girl gently in the grass beside him and looked down at her dark eyes brimming with tears.’
    • ‘Cleo cradled her broken arm and gently lay it so it was supported by her lap.’
    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
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Prevent (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.’
      • ‘The light rain has laid the dust and little is lifted by your wheels as you drive.’
      • ‘There was a thunder storm here this morning, and I was hoping that the rain might lay the pollen and dust a bit.’
  • 2[with object] Put down and set in position for use.

    ‘it is advisable to have your carpet laid by a professional’
    figurative ‘the groundwork for change had been laid’
    • ‘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 Red Carpet was especially laid for the guests who really enjoyed their stay there.’
    • ‘He grinned against my lips and propelled me towards his bed, but before we got there, I laid some ground rules.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's certainly better than the nanotechnology-thick carpet that was previously laid directly onto the concrete screed.’
    • ‘Overnight these streets have been laid with colored sawdust carpets.’
    • ‘This will lay the ground rules for anyone who tries to seek an exception to go whaling in the future.’
    • ‘The drums scatter while a trembling, funky bass-riff lays the ground work for the string section to lead.’
    • ‘In addition the ventilation system is being improved, seats have been re-covered and new carpets are being laid.’
    • ‘With the blue carpet only laid recently and the translation booths still to be fitted out, the 13th floor has yet to be finished.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The ancient and largely uncomfortable seating would be replaced and the giant 2,300-seater Oval Hall redecorated and a new carpet laid.’
    • ‘This lays the ground for suggesting some means to move forward in the debate.’
    • ‘The thick green carpet that was laid down looked almost like real, lush grass.’
    • ‘The recent fall of snow, laid in a thick carpet, deadened any sound, adding to the tranquillity and pristine feel of the mountains.’
    1. 2.1Set cutlery, crockery, and mats on (a table) in preparation for a meal.
      ‘she laid the table for the evening meal’
      • ‘She turned quickly, in a swirl of black robes, and hurried along the forbidding corridors back to a table laid for two.’
      • ‘I remember looking into one and seeing a little dining table laid out with tiny silver cutlery.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Once they have prepared and cooked the two-course meal, the children sit down at a table they have laid and eat together.’
      • ‘In the houses located in the Midlands, guests dine at one large polished dining table laid with old family silver.’
      • ‘He stepped into the kitchen to see his sister laying the table for them both.’
      • ‘She laid the table then went back and returned with two more glasses.’
      • ‘The tables were being laid, and there's a Bouncy castle for the children.’
      • ‘The Green Room features a table laid ready for a meal.’
      • ‘No expense had been spared in the ballroom itself, where the tables had been laid for a lavish banquet.’
      • ‘Then off we go to find the dining room, and lay the table.’
    2. 2.2Cover (a surface) with objects or a substance.
      ‘the floor was laid with tiles’
      • ‘The entrance hall has original floor tiles laid out in a herringbone design, moulded cornices and an original ceiling rose.’
      • ‘The acupressure track has been laid with stone pebbles and tiles.’
      • ‘When I arrive in out of the cold, the tables are laid with fresh white tablecloths, gleaming cutlery and sparkling wine glasses.’
      • ‘A new plastic surface will also be laid for the event.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In recent years, the surface has been laid with sand and loam.’
      • ‘In shambles, pavements once laid with tiles were chaotically dug up.’
      • ‘It will also have a new hard surface laid for older children to play ball games.’
      • ‘Modern display units feature large sliding trays laid with tiles, enabling customers to envisage a whole floor.’
      • ‘Beautiful golden cream tiles lay upon the floor along with some that were chocolate brown.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There's an outside seating area laid with gravel and helpfully placed stone benches.’
      • ‘The all-weather surface comprises artificial turf laid onto a rubber composite material, giving a realistic feel.’
    3. 2.3Make ready (a trap) for someone.
      ‘she wouldn't put it past him to lay a trap for her’
      • ‘It makes bureaucratic booby traps, laid down by government civil servants at their final destination, cruel indeed.’
      • ‘The course covers the laws about poisons, and the dangers to wildlife, and practical exercises in laying and baiting a trap.’
      • ‘A pest-control company has told me there is no evidence of any activity in the attic, though traps and poison were laid.’
      • ‘But the trap has usually been laid for the opponent, supported by a strong defense and kicking game.’
      • ‘They also easily become prey to traps that are indiscriminately laid.’
      • ‘At suitable sites, mist nets are strung up, and traps laid that harmlessly snare the birds as they come down to roost or rest.’
      • ‘She had some sort of trap laid and she was preparing to spring it on him.’
      • ‘And stupidity, sheer stupidity, meant that they did not see the trap that they had laid for themselves.’
      • ‘They have fallen into the trap the publishers laid down nearly 300 years ago.’
      • ‘There was still many hours of daylight left, plenty of time to lay out the trap in his mind.’
      • ‘But she wasn't ready to accept him yet, it could be an elaborate trap laid by one of the Four.’
      • ‘Those involved in the ambush said a trap had been laid, and that the area was marked with defensive earth berms and firing positions.’
      • ‘Last weekend, I laid down traps to catch the rats.’
      • ‘We zoom in for a brief moment to show the array of spike traps the police have laid in place to disable the car.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A trap should only be laid if it is part of the overall strategic plan.’
      • ‘He laid a ‘glue trap’ by the hole at the back of my kitchen cupboard.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the ensuing panic, it appears other hostages had inadvertently set off booby traps laid in the theatre by the rebels.’
      • ‘He likes his sport but is only too aware how it can lay dangerous and unseen traps.’
    4. 2.4Put the material for (a fire) in place and arrange it.
      • ‘Every one of the 400 bedrooms had a coal fire, laid by the staff each day.’
      • ‘The only light came from the fire that had been laid so the room would be a comfortable temperature for me.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I hastily finished laying the fire before going down below the stairs to the kitchen.’
      • ‘The crowd was focusing its attention on an old woman who sat next to a fire laid on the stone floor of the classroom.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A fire has been laid for us in the parlour and I am certain we have much to discuss.’
    5. 2.5Work out (an idea or suggestion) in detail ready for use or presentation.
      ‘I'd like more time to lay my plans’
      • ‘French security sources said that advanced plans had been laid to use a stolen truck or a helicopter loaded with explosives.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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
      View synonyms
    6. 2.6Present information or suggestions to be considered and acted upon by (someone)
      ‘he laid before the House proposals for the establishment of the committee’
      • ‘We are instructed by the above-named prosecutor, and wish to lay the following information before the court.’
      • ‘Thereafter, the Secretary of State lays the report before Parliament pursuant to Section 73.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If you will say that this sum (for the time above specified) will be sufficient, I shall lay the matter before the English Government.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It may otherwise generally regulate its own procedure, but it must lay a report before Parliament.’
      • ‘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 voters must not feel singled out by the Prime Minister's refusal to lay the full facts before us.’
      • ‘He lays the evidence before us, without comment, so that we may draw our own conclusions.’
      • ‘But several requests to lay proposals before the bank met with no serious response except that the bank should simply lend more money.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The proposals will be laid before parliament in the autumn.’
      bring, bring forward, put forward, submit, advance, present, press, prefer, offer, lodge, register, place, file, table
      View synonyms
    7. 2.7Locate (an episode in a play, novel, etc.) in a certain place.
      ‘no one who knew the area could be in doubt where the scene was laid’
    8. 2.8Nautical Follow (a specified course)
    9. 2.9Nautical [no object]Go or come.
      ‘they had to lay aloft’
      • ‘You remember that night when you laid out in your skiff and stared up at the stars all night?’
    10. 2.10[with object]Stake (an amount of money) in a wager.
      ‘she suspected he was pulling her leg, but she wouldn't have laid money on it’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      bet, wager, gamble, stake, hazard, risk, chance, venture
      View synonyms
  • 3[with 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If any blame is to be laid at all, it is at the defense's door for this delay.’
    • ‘The blame here cannot be laid on some interagency squabble between, say, the State Department and the Pentagon.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Then stress should be laid accordingly so that one treats the root.’
    • ‘There are, after all, dangers in laying all the blame at the manufacturer's door.’
    • ‘The conference is of great significance to the institute, as special stress would be laid on developing a training programme for it.’
    • ‘The finger of blame cannot be laid at the door of the team management, for our planning was immaculate.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We cannot lay all the blame on foreigners visiting the country.’
    • ‘But the blame cannot be laid solely at the door of the organisation and its leaders.’
    • ‘It's just easier to lay all the blame squarely on the shoulders of smokers.’
    • ‘I suppose I should not lay too much blame at the door of the opposite sex.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Stress must be laid on product quality and benefits before any discussions on price.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Yet it is all too easy to lay all the blame at the door of the coach and call for quick fixes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The report lays much of the blame at door of the UK's planning authorities.’
    assign, attribute, ascribe, allocate, allot, impute, attach, impose, fix
    View synonyms
  • 4[with 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’
    • ‘The adult female louse lays eggs, which hatch after seven days, in sacs adjacent to the scalp.’
    • ‘In fact most perching birds lay eggs that are mostly white except for a ring of reddish spots around the blunt end.’
    • ‘Female flies lay eggs every two or three days, 300 eggs each time, which means the number of flies will rocket if not controlled.’
    • ‘The female beetle lays eggs only where she knows aphids are present.’
    • ‘In the middle of it all, this bird laid an egg but abandoned it and continued to mate.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The moth lays eggs, and the larvae leave silvery trails as they damage the foliage.’
    • ‘For example, turtles lay their eggs within hours in beach sand and then leave them.’
    • ‘At night on the beaches, giant turtles would lay their eggs.’
    • ‘Female turtles begin laying their eggs at age 50 and then come back to lay them every six years for another 50 years.’
    • ‘A female butterfly lays an egg that looks like a miniature pearl, or a squashed golf ball, or a whiskey barrel.’
    • ‘On another day, we all rushed to the headman's home after hearing that a chicken had laid a strange egg.’
    • ‘These host plants are where the female butterfly will eventually lay her eggs.’
    • ‘Being reptiles, the crocodilians lay eggs, but they are not abandoned by mother croc.’
    • ‘The female wasp lays her eggs inside the developing medfly egg.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They were overjoyed as the mother bird laid eggs.’
    • ‘Most adult female sea turtles will lay several hundred eggs during a nesting season.’
  • 5vulgar slang [with object] Have sexual intercourse with.


  • 1[in singular] The general appearance of an area, including the direction of streams, hills, and similar features.

    ‘the lay of the surrounding countryside’
    • ‘Each one was adept at their trade; they knew the lay of their respective lands.’
    • ‘JB knew the lay of the land pretty well and steered us to a hotel on O'Farrell.’
    • ‘They know the lay of the land literally, and they know what a hurricane of this type will do.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Animals are often better at working out the lay of the land than are human beings, and Isobel's horse was no exception.’
    • ‘The lay of the land is also a defensive tool for the prudent general.’
    • ‘Which is pretty much the way to evaluate the current lay of the land in Ukraine.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She had no idea of the lay of the surrounding land, and nowhere to stay.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In addition to learning the lay of the land, we would work out logistics for travel with twenty students.’
    • ‘Not doing more than getting the lay of the land, but they were there.’
    • ‘I'm sort of going to give you the lay of the land and then we'll go inside.’
    • ‘Give us a lay of the land right now, just about two weeks before the caucuses.’
    • ‘Then, in a remarkable burst of rail building energy, engineers began cutting straight swaths across the lay of the land.’
    • ‘And Bip and Bop they knew the lay of the land.’
    • ‘She was trying to get the lay of the land, not to get herself laid.’
    • ‘I just did not think that where we were in the lay of the land that water was going to collect here.’
    1. 1.1The position or direction in which something lies.
      ‘roll the carpet against the lay of the nap’
    2. 1.2The direction or amount of twist in rope strands.
  • 2vulgar slang An act of sexual intercourse.

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

    • ‘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': they are going to lay the carpet. The past tense and the past participle of lay is laid: they laid the groundwork; she had laid careful plans. The verb lie, on the other hand, means 'assume a horizontal or resting position': why don't you lie on the floor? The past tense of lie is lay: he lay on the floor earlier in the day. The past participle of lie is lain: she had lain on the bed for hours. In practice, many speakers inadvertently get the lay forms and the lie forms into a tangle of right and wrong usage. Here are some examples of typical incorrect usage: have you been laying on the sofa all day? (should be lying); he lay the books on the table (should be laid); I had laid in this position so long, my arm was stiff (should be lain). See also lie


  • get laid

    • informal Have sex.

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

    • Regard someone as responsible for something.

      ‘the failure is laid at the door of the government’
      • ‘And since he has accepted full responsibility for the way the issue was presented, we are justified in laying the blame at his door.’
      • ‘Our national broadcaster, the other day, sought to lay the blame at his door.’
      • ‘The report laid the blame at his door for ‘errors, omissions, failures and shortcomings which are deeply shocking’.’
      • ‘‘This single issue will be laid at their door at the next election,’ he said.’
      • ‘For him to lay the blame at the media's door is a nonsense.’
      • ‘Sensing that she really could ‘fly,‘he gave her a chance to contend for the gold, fully aware that should she fail all the blame would be laid at his door.’
      • ‘I do not lay the blame solely at his door for the recent disappointments that have beset English football.’
      • ‘Not all the blame for the sell-off in bonds and the resultant yield rises can be laid at his door.’
      • ‘The union has been quick to lay the blame at his door.’
      • ‘Whatever accusations have been laid at his door, deception has not been one of them.’
      blame something on, lay the blame for something on, attribute something to, impute something to, ascribe something to
      View synonyms
  • 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 ‘chilling’ methods used by tobacco companies to market cigarettes were laid bare today as thousands of previously confidential papers were published on the internet.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The ‘appalling’ state of a crisis-hit council's finances were laid bare yesterday, amid warnings that most services faced swingeing cuts.’
      • ‘It left me exposed, like my heart was laid bare before him.’
      • ‘Much of its former usages were laid bare for exhibitions.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘On the new timescale, the truth about the truth is laid bare.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Yet the Children's Bill says ‘a male child that was subjected to circumcision against his will may lay a charge of assault’.’
      • ‘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.’
      bring, bring forward, put forward, submit, advance, present, press, prefer, offer, lodge, register, place, file, table
      View synonyms
  • lay claim to something

    • 1Assert that one has a right to something.

      ‘four men laid claim to the leadership’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Because his own title to the crown was doubtful, he laid claim to that of France.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So 2 percent of the people are laying claim to 10 percent of the coastline; where is the justice in that?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He bravely handled the pressure, stringing four flawless racks to lay claim to victory and the US $75,000 first-place check.’
      • ‘Four young sisters have laid claim to being Bolton's most musical family after two of them landed places in national orchestras.’
      1. 1.1Assert that one possesses a skill or quality.
        ‘she has never laid claim to medical knowledge’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘No, he possesses the real genius that only our greatest comedians can lay claim to.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘One thing that is worse than doing things badly is doing things badly and laying claim to 100 percent purity and clean, greenness.’
        • ‘In seeking to define himself as Australia's next leader, he lays claim to possessing a key quality he reveres.’
        • ‘Certainly I am still early in my aikido development - I am a sandan, and lay claim to no special level of skill or talent.’
        • ‘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.’
  • lay down one's arms (or weapons)

    • Cease fighting.

      ‘they renounced violence and laid down their arms’
      • ‘Offers from Khartoum of federal autonomy failed to persuade the increasingly active guerrillas to lay down their arms.’
      • ‘And if the Palestinian people eventually agree to lay down their arms, this should serve to keep extremist organizations in check.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Through megaphones, voices in broken English blared out at them, urging them to surrender and lay down their arms.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Reconstruction of Iraq can only begin when the resistance is either killed off or lays down their arms.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘If you and your fellows lay down your arms, you will not be harmed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And the Republicans, I guess, will be so shocked and awed that they will lay down their arms and capitulate.’
      • ‘Hakimi declared that no Taliban would agree to lay down his arms as long as U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan.’
      relinquish, surrender, give up, yield, cede, turn over
      View synonyms
  • lay down the law

    • Issue instructions to other people in an authoritative or dogmatic way.

      • ‘While the details of the proceedings were not made public, there is no doubt that Bolton attempted to lay down the law.’
      • ‘He said: ‘It made us realise that listening to each other and negotiation is better than confrontation and laying down the law.’’
      • ‘Tonight, TV's No.1 judge lays down the law on family squabbles.’
      • ‘She'll lay down the law on headline issues and take your calls.’
      • ‘Whether or not the Minister and the Government has the right to lay down the law for a sporting body like this is another question and very much open to debate.’
      • ‘Whatever difficulties or problems arise in terms of schooling in the future are best dealt with not by people laying down the law but by people listening to each other's needs.’
      • ‘In the wake of the elections, media owners have wasted no time in laying down the law to the incoming government, demanding lower business costs and taxes.’
      • ‘He has gone for ground rules rather than laying down the law.’
      • ‘Democrats should see regulating the labor market to keep the big fish from eating the little fish as a modern parallel to laying down the law on Wall Street after 1929.’
      • ‘If even the greatest writers are not bound by the rules and we have no academy to lay down the law, who is to decide what is acceptable and what is not?’
      order someone about, order someone around, tell someone what to do, boss someone about, boss someone around, ride roughshod over someone, be dogmatic, be domineering
      call the shots, call the tune
      throw one's weight about, throw one's weight around, push someone about, push someone around
      View synonyms
  • lay down one's life

    • Sacrifice one's life for a cause.

      ‘he laid down his life for his country’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I do not mean to belittle the heroic deeds achieved by the pioneers, some whom even laid down their lives in fighting crime.’
      • ‘Now I find myself mother to five beautiful, intelligent, creative children for whom I would lay down my life in an instant.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He paid tributes at AOC War Memorial to soldiers who had laid down their lives for the cause of the nation.’
  • lay eyes on

  • 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. 1.1Get rid of a distressing, frightening, or worrying memory or thought.
        ‘we need to lay the ghost of the past and move ahead’
        • ‘But she's also keen to lay a ghost from her past that could also provide her with some hope for the future.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘For me, drawing's uniqueness has something to do with the fundamental activity of actually trying to lay a ghost or exorcise oneself.’
        • ‘It felt like I wanted to reconcile with them, to lay a ghost, but I never managed to.’
        • ‘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 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.’
        • ‘It is as hard for a man to escape assassination as it is to lay a ghost.’
        • ‘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.’
  • lay hands on

    • 1Find and take possession of.

      ‘they huddled, trying to keep warm under anything they could lay hands on’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In short, your business is far from being destroyed if you manage to lay your hands on this membership.’
      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.

      • ‘Myself and another lady laid our hands on the spot that hurts him the most and prayed for him on Sunday.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      bless, consecrate
      View synonyms
  • lay (or put) one's hands on

    • Find and acquire.

      ‘I would read every book I could lay my hands on’
      • ‘He read anything and everything he could lay his hands on, and learnt lots of languages to help in this.’
      • ‘The first computer I ever laid my hands on was a Digital PDP - 11, and that was back in the mid-70s.’
      • ‘I'd see if I could lay my hands on a compatible power brick and see if that cures the problem.’
      • ‘She'd just toss in anything any old thing she could lay her hands on and usually, it turned out tasting great.’
      • ‘Once we laid our hands on the beautiful album, we were amazed by the first-class photography that greeted us.’
      • ‘As a child she read whatever she could lay her hands on, devouring tomes of literature, history, and politics.’
      • ‘She caught what she could lay her hands on and when the old woman pulled her out of the river, she held a chest.’
      • ‘We got hold of every magazine we could lay our hands on to aid our filthy little scheme.’
      • ‘But there are things one need to plan to before we lay our hands on the much talked about release.’
      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
  • lay hold of (or on)

    • Catch or gain possession of.

      ‘he was afraid she might vanish if he did not lay hold of her’
      • ‘Ever since the emergence of the early state, various handfuls of people have been laying hold of inordinate amounts of wealth and power.’
      • ‘Boyle argued that only by laying hold of atomist ideas could the occult and teleological influence of the alchemists be removed from the subject.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The war is fundamentally an attempt by the US to lay hold of these natural resources by force of arms.’
      • ‘But lay hold on this inescapable fact - one day, all death will be abolished.’
      • ‘‘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 ’.’
      • ‘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 real revolution in philosophy would be to regard the contingencies of history as the means by which we lay hold of reality.’
  • lay it on the line

  • lay someone low

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

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I did have dengue fever last year which laid me low, I was in hospital for a week.’
      • ‘Even when a stroke laid him low, he was doing sit-ups and press-ups by his hospital bed.’
      • ‘However, Dove has been laid low by a virus all week and his chances of being involved at the weekend are 50-50.’
      • ‘Not enough to lay me low, but enough to make me tired and miserable and feel a bit sorry for myself.’
      • ‘And despite a heavy cold laying her low over Christmas, she does not intend to make that jump her last.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Anyway, I thought, a nice bacterial infection might zap the mystery virus that's laid me low for the past year or so.’
      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’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘He is the archenemy to the Order and has vowed to lay them low one way or another.’
  • lay something on the table

    • 1Make something known so that it can be freely and sensibly discussed.

      • ‘The process has to reveal the total capability provided by every program and lay the facts on the table for all to see.’
      • ‘Well, I suppose there's nothing like laying your trivia on the table at the outset so that anyone who's not up for some girlie chat can go put some shelves up in the kitchen.’
      • ‘You just lay it on the table… what you like and what you want more of.’
      • ‘Thus, they called this hearing to lay the issue on the table for discussion.’
      • ‘‘It is time to start laying the facts on the table,’ he said.’
      • ‘In an odd sense, sir, is this some progress in your mind, that they are finally laying the charges on the table?’
      • ‘In other words, the opposition has laid our bona fides on the table and we have done that right here in the chamber during the committee debate.’
      • ‘If so-called public interest groups or non-profit corporations are accepting corporate money, lay it on the table.’
      • ‘Death of a Superhero lays its credentials on the table as a novel of self-affirmation and self-belief.’
      • ‘He said every trader is prepared to lay their accounts on the table for inspection by the judge which was significant because similar cases were lost before elsewhere simply because only one trader was bringing action.’
    • 2Postpone something indefinitely.

  • lay something on thick (or with a trowel)

    • informal Grossly exaggerate or overemphasize something.

      • ‘She lays it on thick about how she's always loved your work and how she thinks you could make beautiful music together.’
      • ‘I can safely say this: the English-speaking voice actors are bad, laying it on thick and heavy, without an ounce of subtlety.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He knows how to lay it on thick when he needs to, you know?’
      • ‘Occasionally, the tone can be too sentimental and some of the historic background is laid on with a trowel, but these are quibbles.’
      • ‘I laid it on with a trowel, and of course she deserved it.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Someone could have a bone to pick with you soon, and they'll lay it on thick as sauce.’
      exaggerate, stretch the truth, overdo it, overstate one's case, embellish the truth
      flatter, pay extravagant compliments, give fulsome praise, over-praise, soft-soap
      pile it on, lay it on with a shovel, lay it on with a trowel, ham it up, sweet-talk
      View synonyms
  • lay someone open to

    • Expose someone to the risk of (something)

      ‘his position could lay him open to accusations of favoritism’
      • ‘Her denials may have worked technically but laid her open to ridicule.’
      • ‘Because I think it lays us open to the suggestion that we were avoiding them, and I think that is unwise.’
      • ‘Or do all such systems lay you open to spontaneous global chatting?’
      • ‘If asked I would certainly refuse to rub down women because it lays you open to allegations of assault.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘To say that the arrested ‘terrorists’ were nothing of the sort laid him open to accusations of appeasement, treachery even.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘The public must realise all surgical procedures carry risks and having plastic surgery lays them open to all of these.’
      • ‘His accuser is a former drinking and gambling mate, whose allegations have laid him open to prosecution.’
      • ‘Privacy campaigners say the system lays you open to permanent surveillance.’
  • lay over

    • Break one's journey.

      ‘Steven and I will lay over in New York, then fly to London’
      • ‘They laid over in Dublan, Mexico for a few days, then went on to Galeana, where Maria's brother and sister lived.’
      • ‘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.’
  • lay siege to

    • Conduct a siege of (a place)

      ‘government forces laid siege to the building’
      figurative ‘the press laid siege to her apartment’
      • ‘A generation ago, mounting an expedition meant drafting a herd of porters, slogging loads of gear to a rocky base camp, and laying siege to a Himalayan peak.’
      • ‘In December 1880 the Boers rose in revolt, laying siege to isolated British garrisons.’
      • ‘They combined forces and actually laid siege to Aleppo itself.’
      • ‘True to form the press were preparing to lay siege to the two family homes.’
      • ‘My parents told me that I really had to speak to the press, who were laying siege to the hospital.’
      • ‘The Iliad covers just a few weeks of the tenth year of the long period over which the Greek forces laid siege to the city of Troy.’
      • ‘Read Michael Crichton's Timeline and, on a misty day, it is easy to imagine medieval armies laying siege to these fortresses.’
      • ‘After the battle the English expeditionary force landed and laid siege to Rounai.’
      • ‘The objective was to silence the forts so that minesweepers could clear the minefields to allow the fleet to force the Dardanelles and lay siege to Constantinople (now Istanbul).’
      • ‘The Takeda army that laid siege to Nagashino castle consisted of 15,000 men, of whom 12,000 took part in the subsequent battle.’
  • lay store by

  • lay something (to) waste

Phrasal Verbs

  • lay about someone

    • Beat or attack someone violently.

      ‘they weren't against laying about you with sticks and stones’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The guards laid about them, striking men and women with the flats of their swords.’
  • lay about one

    • Strike out wildly on all sides.

      ‘the mare laid about her with her front legs and teeth’
      • ‘Behave churlishly and rudely, treating everyone you encounter like some kind of moron and generally laying about you with a riding crop.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The standard image of a barbarian is some bloodthirsty crazy shouting out incomprehensible threats and laying about him /em> with a massive axe.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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’
      • ‘By the time we lay the book aside, we have witnessed an extraordinary reversal.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘All jokes are laid aside and the two at last reconcile themselves about the accident.’
      • ‘He lays the paper aside, and adds with a smile and a note of resignation, ‘I'm still trying to do all that.’’
      • ‘‘I see,’ the judge said, laying the scroll aside.’
      • ‘She reminds him to lay his anger aside and listen to Theseus, who wishes to allow Polyneices' request to be granted.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After a while you lay the polio aside and kind of forget about it.’
      • ‘Rraerch had laid her glass aside and was leaning toward me.’
      • ‘Everyone thought he was kidding until, at the height of his fame, he laid his camera aside to concentrate on painting and drawing.’
      • ‘The composer was never quite satisfied with it, however, and after a tentative revision, he lay the work aside.’
      • ‘‘Coming,’ he called, laying his laptop aside; taking long strides towards the door and opening it.’
      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 toward 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.’
        • ‘For homeowners it means paying off the mortgage slower, or reducing their ability to lay money aside for retirement.’
        • ‘She has laid aside a little sum, but her long expensive illness takes her last dollar.’
        put aside, put to one side, keep, save, store, hold in abeyance
        View synonyms
  • lay something down

    • 1Put something down.

      ‘she finished her eclair and laid down her fork’
    • 2Formulate and enforce or insist on a rule or principle.

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

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The money was duly laid down, so Lucas whipped off his kit and plunged in.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 railroad.

      • ‘Work proceeded forthwith, and the first three of five Holland boats were laid down on February 4, 1901.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Yet nobody complained a peep about the Bonaventure when it was laid down to access the Champlain Bridge and Expo 67.’
      • ‘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’
        • ‘The rock that makes up the landscape was laid down in the Jurassic period, between about 150 and 200 million years ago.’
        • ‘The confusion can be traced to the uniformitarian expectations that the deposits were laid down over eons of time.’
        • ‘Synorogenic flysch deposits were laid down in front of the advancing allochthonous complexes, and were overridden by them.’
        • ‘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 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 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.’
        • ‘Additional studies will determine if the rocks were laid down by minerals formed at the bottom of a salty lake or sea.’
        • ‘The fossil-bearing chalk deposits were laid down as ocean-floor ooze hundreds of kilometers from the waterways shores.’
        • ‘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.’
    • 5Store wine in a cellar.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Alternatively, wines can be laid down for just one of these occasions, as required.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
      • ‘He also sang most of the songs cold, before any instruments were laid down in the studio.’
      • ‘Once the composition takes shape, they and any session musicians they may need are used to laying it down at high speed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But the true power in this album is that she laid the tracks down live and left them that way.’
      • ‘How do you feel it's an advantage over laying things down on tape piece by piece?’
      • ‘When I start getting inputs in my head, I have to start laying them down.’
      • ‘I can skip the searching process now and just grab a guitar, bass, keys or drums and lay it down.’
      • ‘So after a brief run through the tapes were switched on to lay a backing track down.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘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.

      • ‘During this time his expenses had swallowed up the small amount which he had succeeded in laying up previous to his sickness.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Manufacturers refused to lay in supplies in advance.’
      • ‘Unless you have the foresight to lay up stores in advance, production will grind to a halt.’
      stock up on, stock up with, stockpile, 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
      salt away
      View synonyms
  • lay into

    • Attack violently with words or blows.

      ‘three youths laid into him’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I hear that the papers have been laying into it, saying what a pile of rubbish it was.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The former boxer was driving past the station in the High Road when he came across six teenagers laying into another youngster.’
      • ‘He was very, very aggressive and really laying into my car.’
      • ‘She laid into the companies that pitched for funds on the programme, saying she had only gone on the show to promote her business.’
      • ‘He was astounded when the journalist unexpectedly exploded into violence, laying into a passer-by larking about for the camera.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They all surrounded him and started laying into him with sticks and that.’
      • ‘It shows a swaggering thug laying into a complete stranger.’
      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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In her defense, laying off the booze would mean seeing him sober…’
      • ‘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
      pack in, leave off, kick, give over, knock off
      View synonyms
  • lay someone off

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

      • ‘If you remain with the company, what are the chances you will be laid off?’
      • ‘If something goes wrong, if somebody gets laid off, if you have a child that gets sick, you go right off the cliff.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But after six months, she was laid off as business slowed down.’
      • ‘The bodyguards at the headquarters in Sofia have been laid off, and 30 luxury limousines have been sold.’
      • ‘When I got laid off in January, I decided to start cooking once more.’
      • ‘His wife, a former textile worker, took care of him and his son when he was laid off from his factory.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My best friend's husband got laid off, which I knew.’
      • ‘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.’
      make redundant, dismiss, let go, discharge, give notice to, pay off, release
      sack, give someone the sack, fire, give someone their cards, give someone their marching orders, send packing, give someone the boot, give someone the bullet, give someone the push, give someone the heave-ho, give someone the old heave-ho, boot out
      View synonyms
  • lay something on

    • Require (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.’
      • ‘Hoffman lays the main responsibility on historians who, as I mentioned, are so wary of economics.’
      • ‘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.’
  • lay someone out

    • 1Prepare someone for burial after death.

      • ‘In a barren room lies the more or less mute and ill father; later his dead son is laid out in the same space.’
      • ‘The front part of the house, where he had met his customers, was cleared of furniture and his body was laid out there.’
      • ‘They laid Rhiannon out, and erased all traces of their involvement in bringing her there.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 later confirmed that Kennedy was laid out in the East Room prior to his burial in Arlington.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Bodies of children were laid out under a grove of trees near a hospital awaiting identification.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The design comes into its own in the final scene, when Lear and Cordelia are laid out together, finally united in death.’
      • ‘Indeed, his only remotely decent piece of acting comes when his corpse is laid out at the end of the film.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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
      ko, kayo, knock for six
      View synonyms
  • lay something out

    • 1Spread something out to its full extent, especially so that it can be seen.

      ‘the police were insisting that suitcases should be opened and their contents laid out’
      • ‘He would lay his uniform out and dress from the toes up.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘Lauren unfolded the letter carefully and laid it out on the small table in her room.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 city of Philadelphia was laid out according to Penn's plan.’
      • ‘Kutna Hora is laid out on a higgledy-piggledy hillside plan, a response to the mine-works underneath.’
      • ‘The Flower Garden near the Orchid House is laid out with beds of flowering annual and perennials.’
      • ‘Santa Fe was laid out as a series of blocks around a plaza, with the government buildings on its north side.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘The 208 apartments in the Tramyard will be laid out in eight blocks arranged in clusters around a landscaped courtyard.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      1. 2.1Arrange and present material for printing and publication.
        ‘the brochure is beautifully laid out’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘What I liked was that the material is laid out in a reasonable fashion.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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 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’
        • ‘A strategy meeting was convened and the plan was laid out.’
        • ‘You have to lay it out for her, explain that her behaviour will end your relationship.’
        • ‘Any scientific theory has an exemplary case where the basic ideas and methodologies are laid out clearly and convincingly.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘The basic techniques had been laid out clearly in the agronomic handbooks of Ancient Rome.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Potential investors are periodically invited to watch the company perform 10-minute snatches of each property, and a business plan is laid out.’
        • ‘The plans will be laid out on Wednesday in a White Paper.’
        • ‘‘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.’
        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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      spend, expend, pay, disburse, contribute, part with, invest, put in, devote, use up, donate, give
      View synonyms
  • lay up

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

      • ‘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 debated with my caddie, Stevie, about laying up.’
      • ‘In fact, I laid up on every par 5 but still made a birdie each time.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 hit my drive in the fairway, laid up with a 7-iron, then hit a wedge to the back fringe.’
  • lay someone up

    • Put someone out of action through illness or injury.

      ‘he was laid up with his familiar fever’
      • ‘I was laid up for 4 weeks following a hernia operation.’
      • ‘I was given a flu vaccination but it had an adverse reaction and meant I was laid up for a while.’
      • ‘At the time I was laid up with a freshly broken ankle, so it certainly took my mind off the pain.’
      • ‘An infection set in and Gary was laid up for another six months.’
      • ‘I read the first four back in 2000 when I was laid up with a nasty bronchial thing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was fairly serious, he lost a lot of blood and he was laid up for a long time.’
      • ‘Her many friends are so sorry to hear she is laid up and we all wish her a speedy recovery.’
      • ‘My Uncle was laid up with an arthritic problem, but from his couch or hobbling about he would carry on renovation to his house.’
      • ‘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
      ill, sick, unwell, sickly, poorly, infirm, ailing, off colour, afflicted, indisposed
      View synonyms
  • lay something up

    • 2Take a ship or other vehicle out of service.

      ‘our boats were laid up during the winter months’
      • ‘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 layers in the arrangement required for the manufacture of plywood or other laminated material.

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


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




Main definitions of lay in English

: lay1lay2lay3lay4



  • 1Not ordained into or belonging to the clergy.

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

    ‘lay and professional views of medicine’
    • ‘This committee will consist of experts from a range of different disciplines, and half its members will be lay people.’
    • ‘Often faculty are not clinicians but other health professionals and lay community members.’
    • ‘There are, at present, 104 members of the council, 25 of whom are lay members.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘My experience suggests that the lay member's views on legal questions, though diffidently expressed, can also sometimes be helpful.’
    • ‘That panel will be made up of three people - a lay member and two with legal expertise.’
    • ‘The recently released handbook is intended to help even the lay public grasp the medicinal properties of herbs.’
    • ‘This question is as relevant to any lay person as it is to me as an expert.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘For a lay person, inhaled medicines are often linked to smoking or opium inhalation and is, therefore, perceived as addictive.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘That what a psychiatrist or an expert might know is not to be attributed to the lay person.’
    • ‘One can see the appeal of such stories for experts writing for a lay audience.’
    • ‘They act as a filter and a translator from the expert source to the lay reader.’
    • ‘Some of the lay members of the council would thus like to see a council where the doctors had less power.’
    • ‘Newspapers are an important source of information about the results of medical research, both for lay people and health professionals.’
    • ‘Third, the talking styles of men and women have been of interest to both lay and professional persons.’
    • ‘Like lay rules, most professional rules are tacit and informal and are never formally articulated.’
    • ‘Imbalances in knowledge between lay people and professionals make it difficult for lay people to assess doctors' ability and competence.’
    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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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