One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A dummy or jointed manikin of a human body used by artists, especially for arranging drapery on.
mannequin, manikin, lifelike model, figureView synonyms
- ‘They are lay figures mounted in the museum where all may take them in at a glance.’
- ‘The monastic painter of course could not do otherwise, unless he used a lay figure (an articulated model).’
- ‘Articulated wooden lay figures of the kinds sold by artists' suppliers were used for the bodies.’
- ‘A number of examples survive from the eighteenth century, including the articulated lay figure used by the sculptor Louis-François Roubiliac, which is in the Museum of London collections.’
Late 18th century: from obsolete layman, from Dutch leeman, from obsolete led, earlier form of lid ‘joint’.
lay figure/lā ˈfiɡyər/
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