verb (past and past participle laid /lād/)
Old English lecgan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch leggen and German legen, also to lie1
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 lie1 (usage).