There are 4 main definitions of lay in English:

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lay 1

Pronunciation: /leɪ/

verb (past and past participle laid /leɪd/)

1 [with object and adverbial of place] Put (something) down gently or carefully: she laid the baby in his cot
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
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
informal plant, stick, dump, bung, park, plonk, pop, shove
1.1 [with object] Prevent (something) from rising off the ground: there may have been the odd light shower just to lay the dust
More example sentences
  • There was a thunder storm here this morning, and I was hoping that the rain might lay the pollen and dust a bit.
  • 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.
2 [with object] Put down and set in position for use: it is advisable to have your carpet laid by a professional
More example sentences
  • My flat is progressing too, with the bulk of the decorating work likely to be finished this week, and new (cheap and cheerful) carpet to be laid on Wednesday.
  • The Red Carpet was especially laid for the guests who really enjoyed their stay there.
  • In addition the ventilation system is being improved, seats have been re-covered and new carpets are being laid.
2.1British Set cutlery, crockery, etc. on (a table) in preparation for a meal: she laid the table for dinner
More example sentences
  • No expense had been spared in the ballroom itself, where the tables had been laid for a lavish banquet.
  • The Green Room features a table laid ready for a meal.
  • I remember looking into one and seeing a little dining table laid out with tiny silver cutlery.
2.2 (often be laid with) Cover (a surface) with objects or a substance: the floor was laid with mattresses
More example sentences
  • As well as the existing handrails, the slopes are also being laid with a non-slip surface.
  • In recent years, the surface has been laid with sand and loam.
  • Modern display units feature large sliding trays laid with tiles, enabling customers to envisage a whole floor.
2.3Put the material for (a fire) in place and arrange it: he was making newspaper knots before laying a fire in the fireplace
More example sentences
  • Every one of the 400 bedrooms had a coal fire, laid by the staff each day.
  • 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.
  • A fire has been laid for us in the parlour and I am certain we have much to discuss.
2.4Prepare (a trap) for someone: she wouldn’t put it past him to lay a trap for her
More example sentences
  • She had some sort of trap laid and she was preparing to spring it on him.
  • 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.
  • He laid a ‘glue trap’ by the hole at the back of my kitchen cupboard.
2.5Work out (an idea or suggestion) in detail ready for use or presentation: I’d like more time to lay my plans
More example sentences
  • French security sources said that advanced plans had been laid to use a stolen truck or a helicopter loaded with explosives.
  • Plans had also been laid to raise more then £1 million locally.
  • Plans are being laid to turn the clock back 60 years across large swathes of the resort for three days in early September.
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
2.6 (lay something before) Present information or suggestions to be considered and acted upon by (someone): he laid before Parliament proposals for the establishment of the committee
More example sentences
  • We are instructed by the above-named prosecutor, and wish to lay the following information before the court.
  • But several requests to lay proposals before the bank met with no serious response except that the bank should simply lend more money.
  • He lays the evidence before us, without comment, so that we may draw our own conclusions.
bring, bring forward, put forward, submit, advance, present, press, prefer, offer, lodge, register, place, file, table;
accuse, charge, indict;
North American  impeach
2.7Locate (an episode in a play, novel, etc.) in a particular place: no one who knew the area could be in doubt where the scene was laid
2.8 [with object] Stake (an amount of money) in a bet: she suspected he was pulling her leg, but she wouldn’t have laid money on it
More example sentences
  • Something funny is going on here… I'd lay all my money on a bet that it was the Emperor who sent that spell to kill me.
  • But despite taking $25,000 bets before, she will be content with laying a more modest wager.
  • The money was duly laid down, so Lucas whipped off his kit and plunged in.
bet, wager, gamble, stake, hazard, risk, chance, venture;
informal punt, have a flutter
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
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Much blame can be laid on the corrupt and profit-ravenous food industry that shovels false information and dreadful products down our throats all day long.
  • The blame here cannot be laid on some interagency squabble between, say, the State Department and the Pentagon.
assign, attribute, ascribe, allocate, allot, impute, attach, impose, fix;
hold someone responsible, hold someone accountable, hold someone answerable, condemn, find guilty of, pin the blame on
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
More example sentences
  • The female wasp lays her eggs inside the developing medfly egg.
  • A female butterfly lays an egg that looks like a miniature pearl, or a squashed golf ball, or a whiskey barrel.
  • Female flies lay eggs every two or three days, 300 eggs each time, which means the number of flies will rocket if not controlled.
technical oviposit
5 [with object] vulgar slang Have sex with.
6 [with object] Nautical Follow (a specified course): I’m going to lay a course for Ibiza harbour
7 [with object] Trim (a hedge) back, cutting the branches half through, bending them down, and interweaving them: most hedges are no longer laid
More example sentences
  • I had just arrived in the park to do some hedge laying.
  • He was particularly skilled at draining with hand tools and either laying or cutting thorn hedges.
  • The ancient art of hedge laying is alive and well thanks to a lone Preston craftsman, plying his trade around the area's villages.


1 [in singular] The general appearance of an area of land: the lay of the surrounding countryside
More example sentences
  • Not doing more than getting the lay of the land, but they were there.
  • 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.
  • 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.
1.1The position or direction in which something lies: roll the carpet against the lay of the nap
1.2The direction or amount of twist in rope strands.
2 vulgar slang An act of sexual intercourse.
2.1 [with adjective] A person with a particular ability or availability as a sexual partner.
3 [mass noun] The laying of eggs or the period during which they are laid: the onset of lay may be marked by a dropping of the duck’s abdomen
More example sentences
  • Both male and female breeders are subject to a restricted feeding regime for their first few weeks of life - about 20 days to the point of lay.


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



get laid

informal Have sex.
Example sentences
  • He was keeping himself busy with his life's work - trying and failing to get laid.
  • He had a Playboy duvet cover and still got laid!
  • I don't go out to get laid - I go out to have fun.

in lay

(Of a hen) laying eggs regularly.
Example sentences
  • Velogenic viral infection of chickens and turkeys in lay usually reveal egg yolk in the abdominal cavity with flaccid, degenerative follicles.
  • When she is in lay, she lays an egg a day - usually in the morning.
  • Laying chickens produce 265-280 eggs during the 13-14 months they are in lay.

lay something at someone's door

see door.

lay something bare

Bring something out of concealment; expose something: the sad tale of failure was laid bare
More example sentences
  • Much of its former usages were laid bare for exhibitions.
  • 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.
  • It left me exposed, like my heart was laid bare before him.
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

lay a charge

Make an accusation: we could lay a charge of gross negligence
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Yet the Children's Bill says ‘a male child that was subjected to circumcision against his will may lay a charge of assault’.
  • 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.

lay claim to

Assert that one has a right to (something): four men laid claim to the leadership
More example sentences
  • Four young sisters have laid claim to being Bolton's most musical family after two of them landed places in national orchestras.
  • He bravely handled the pressure, stringing four flawless racks to lay claim to victory and the US $75,000 first-place check.
  • 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.
6.1Assert that one possesses (a skill or quality): she has never laid claim to medical knowledge
More example sentences
  • In seeking to define himself as Australia's next leader, he lays claim to possessing a key quality he reveres.
  • Other religious systems may also lay claim to some of these qualities, but not to the totality of these.
  • No, he possesses the real genius that only our greatest comedians can lay claim to.

lay down one's arms (or weapons)

Cease fighting.
Example sentences
  • Negotiations cannot convince the militia's leaders to lay down their arms.
  • More than 600 attended his funeral in Leytonstone to hear family members appeal to local youngsters to lay down their weapons.
  • An estimated 4000 people have reportedly laid down their arms.

lay down the law

see law.

lay down one's life

Sacrifice one’s life for a cause: the willingness of British troops to lay down their lives for their country is a humbling thought
More example sentences
  • I do not mean to belittle the heroic deeds achieved by the pioneers, some whom even laid down their lives in fighting crime.
  • The scripture in the Bible says no greater love hath no man than a man who lays down his life for his friends.
  • Now I find myself mother to five beautiful, intelligent, creative children for whom I would lay down my life in an instant.

lay eyes on

see eye.

lay a (or the) ghost

Exorcise a ghost.
Example sentences
  • Mick said there were stories of various attempts to lay the ghost.
  • And perhaps some form of exorcism or " laying the ghost ".
11.1Finally cease to be troubled by the memory of an unpleasant situation or event: by claiming victory, they laid to rest the ghosts of five previous defeats
More example sentences
  • The army prided itself in re-establishing its deterrence over Hamas, laying the ghosts of Lebanon in 2006.
  • Cougars are out for revenge against Sheffield Eagles on Sunday - to lay the ghosts of last year's nightmare defeats.
  • Perhaps incorporating the brand in staffing will lay the ghost to rest.

lay hands on (also lay or put one's hands on)

1Find and take possession of: they huddled trying to keep warm under anything they could lay hands on
More example sentences
  • I would spend as much time as I possibly could tucked away in different corners of the house reading pretty much anything I could lay my hands on on the subject.
  • As soon as I could walk I started to draw on anything with everything I could lay my hands on: walls, furniture, nothing was safe for me.
  • 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
informal get one's mitts on
2Place one’s hands on or over, especially in confirmation, ordination, or spiritual healing: at the healing service, the clergy offered to lay hands on anyone who wished it
More example sentences
  • 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;

lay hold of (or on)

Catch or gain possession of: he was afraid she might vanish if he did not lay hold of her
More example sentences
  • But lay hold on this inescapable fact - one day, all death will be abolished.
  • This is what the author is clearly reaching out for in this section, but does not fully lay hold of.
  • ‘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 ’.

lay it on the line

see line1.

lay someone low

(Of an illness) reduce someone to inactivity: he was laid low by a stomach bug
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • However, Dove has been laid low by a virus all week and his chances of being involved at the weekend are 50-50.
  • 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.
15.1Bring to an end the high position or good fortune formerly enjoyed by someone: she reflected on how quickly fate can lay a person low
More example sentences
  • 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

see table.

lay something on thick (or with a trowel)

informal Grossly exaggerate or overemphasize something: the message is laid on with a trowel for three hours
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Before she started publishing her guidebooks, the words in most botanical tomes were laid on with a trowel, leaving no room for illustrations.
  • Occasionally, the tone can be too sentimental and some of the historic background is laid on with a trowel, but these are quibbles.
exaggerate, stretch the truth, overdo it, overstate one's case, embellish the truth;
flatter, pay extravagant compliments, give fulsome praise, over-praise, soft-soap
informal pile it on, lay it on with a trowel/shovel, ham it up, sweet-talk

lay someone open to

Expose someone to the risk of (something): his position could lay him open to accusations of favouritism
More example sentences
  • The public must realise all surgical procedures carry risks and having plastic surgery lays them open to all of these.
  • Privacy campaigners say the system lays you open to permanent surveillance.
  • If asked I would certainly refuse to rub down women because it lays you open to allegations of assault.

lay oneself out to do something

chiefly British Make a special effort to do something: she’s laying herself out to be pleasant
More example sentences
  • If you start talking about power, you're really laying yourself out to be challenged on just how powerful you are, so people never do it unless they're pretty sure of their ground.
  • Look round the circle in which your lot is cast, and lay yourself out to be useful.
  • I had to get work, and I laid myself out to get it.

lay siege to

see siege.

lay store by

see store.

lay someone/thing to rest

Bury a body in a grave: they couldn’t lay him to rest as his body was never discovered
More example sentences
  • Four years after he was laid to rest his grave was re-opened so they could bury another child in with him.
  • When Augustus the Strong died his body was laid to rest in the crypt of Krakow cathedral but his heart was buried in Hofkirche.
  • As his body was laid to rest, six Royal Marines fired a volley of three shots followed by a rendering of the Last Post by a bugler.
22.1Soothe and dispel fear, anxiety, etc. suspicion will be laid to rest by fact rather than hearsay
More example sentences
  • When he caught sight of who had assaulted him, however, his fears were laid to rest.
  • If they opened their minds and hearts they would know how silly that is and their fears could be laid to rest.
  • I received a call from the manager at 10: 00 a.m. the next morning saying they had found my credit card and my worst fears were laid to rest.

lay something (to) waste

see waste.

Phrasal verbs


lay about

Beat or attack (someone) violently: they weren’t against laying about you with sticks and stones
More example sentences
  • The guards laid about them, striking men and women with the flats of their swords.
  • Dancers, casting aside their cloaks, revealed themselves as lightly armored fighters who drew all manner of weapons and began laying about them with a will.
  • They laid about him with the back of their axes and overwhelmed him with stones and (thigh) bones and ox heads.
(lay about one)1.1 Strike out wildly on all sides: the mare laid about her with her front legs and teeth
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • I'm getting on a bit myself but I am quite willing and capable of laying about myself with a stick if need be.

lay something aside

Put something to one side: he laid aside his book figurative the situation gave them a good reason to lay aside their differences
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • By the time we lay the book aside, we have witnessed an extraordinary reversal.
  • 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.
abandon, cast aside, reject, renounce, repudiate, dismiss, disregard, ignore, forget, discard
archaic forsake
informal put on the back burner, put in cold storage
rare remit
2.1Reserve money for the future or for a particular cause: he begged them to lay something aside towards the cause
More example sentences
  • For homeowners it means paying off the mortgage slower, or reducing their ability to lay money aside for retirement.
  • Prompt treatment is vital for the well-being of your pets, so ensure you can afford to lay money aside for contingencies such as these.
  • She has laid aside a little sum, but her long expensive illness takes her last dollar.
put aside, put to one side, keep, save, store, hold in abeyance

lay something down

1Put something down.
Example sentences
  • The block was built around the four sides of a concrete courtyard which he had laid down.
  • She laid down on the cot, pulling a tattered blanket over herself.
  • He walked up to her desk and laid a file down.
2Formulate and enforce or insist on a rule or principle: stringent criteria have been laid down
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • From the start strict rules were laid down for its romantic novels, toning down passion to avoid offence.
formulate, stipulate, set down, draw up, frame;
prescribe, order, command, ordain, dictate, decree, enjoin, assert;
pronounce, announce, proclaim, promulgate;
enact, pass, direct, decide, determine, impose, establish, institute, specify, fix, codify
3Pay or bet money: when it comes to field sports, large sums of money are laid down
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out I'll never forget the look on his face when he said Mama's gonna look so great
4Begin to construct a ship or railway: twenty-four ships were projected, of which twenty were laid down
More example sentences
  • As psychoanalysis has taught us in its methodology of disinterested attention, only after all the tracks have been laid down may one begin to evaluate them.
  • The massive naval harbour that bites into Algeciras Bay was a Victorian achievement, that was only properly completed in the 1900's after which the dry docks were laid down.
  • Work proceeded forthwith, and the first three of five Holland boats were laid down on February 4, 1901.
4.1Build up a deposit of a substance: these cells lay down new bone tissue
More example sentences
  • 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 confusion can be traced to the uniformitarian expectations that the deposits were laid down over eons of time.
5Store wine in a cellar: each bottle has to be laid down for several years before it is ready to drink
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
store, put into store, keep for future use, keep, save
6 informal Record a piece of music: he was invited to the studio to lay down some backing vocals
More example sentences
  • How do you feel it's an advantage over laying things down on tape piece by piece?
  • 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!
  • But the true power in this album is that she laid the tracks down live and left them that way.

lay something in/up

Build up a stock of something in case of need: the police are expecting riots and preparing by laying in guns and tear gas
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • During this time his expenses had swallowed up the small amount which he had succeeded in laying up previous to his sickness.
  • Unless you have the foresight to lay up stores in advance, production will grind to a halt.
stock up with/on, stockpile, store (up), amass, heap up, hoard, save, stow, put aside, garner, accumulate, pile up, mass, assemble, stack up, put away, stow away, husband, reserve, preserve, conserve, collect, muster, put by, put by for a rainy day, squirrel away

lay into

informal Attack violently with words or blows: three youths laid into him
More example sentences
  • After seeing the error of their comrades, the three armed men advanced more cautiously towards Erik, attempting to surround him first before they laid into their attack.
  • He was astounded when the journalist unexpectedly exploded into violence, laying into a passer-by larking about for the camera.
  • She laid into the companies that pitched for funds on the programme, saying she had only gone on the show to promote her business.
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
informal lace into, sail into, pitch into, let someone have it, get stuck into, paste, do over, knock about/around, rough up
British informal have a go at
criticize harshly, castigate, censure, lambaste, harangue, condemn, pillory, rant at, rave at;
berate, upbraid, rebuke, chide, reproach, reprove, scold
informal pitch into, crucify, rubbish, slag off
British informal have a go at
North American informal light into, bad-mouth, bawl out
rare objurgate

lay off

informal Give up or stop doing something: I laid off smoking for seven years
More example sentences
  • In her defense, laying off the booze would mean seeing him sober…
  • Now I'm doing an Amber and trying to quit the fags - my immune system is shot and laying off the smokes should help a bit.
  • I’m also trying to lay off the dairy after a week of upset stomach.

lay someone off

Discharge a worker temporarily or permanently because of a shortage of work: the company has laid off 30 per cent of its staff
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • His wife, a former textile worker, took care of him and his son when he was laid off from his factory.

lay something off

1chiefly Soccer Pass the ball to a teammate: Jules laid the ball off to the striker
More example sentences
  • No forward likes to have someone on top of them, they just end up laying the ball off with passes.
  • He lays the ball off to Heskey, who drives a useless cross against the legs of the nearest Swedish defender.
  • They passed to each other, they ran past each other, they laid the ball off to each other.
2Paint the final layer on a wall or other surface: lay off the paint with very light brush strokes
More example sentences
  • When you get good at this, you can quickly reverse each consecutive pass to lay the paint off in one direction.
  • When it comes to laying the paint off to ensure no brush marks are left behind I always use the following analogy when training people to paint
  • After applying by roller, laying off the paint with a brush or pad will give you an improved finish.
3(Of a bookmaker) insure against a loss resulting from a large bet by placing a similar bet with another bookmaker.
Example sentences
  • Any sensible fella would have laid the bet off by now, guaranteeing him a fair wedge.
  • Even then you had to wait whilst he phoned and laid the bet off before they accepted it.
  • This scenario will happen to you and the trick is to accept it, lay the bet off and accept a small loss and then move onto your next trade.

lay something on

1British Provide a service or amenity: the council provides a grant to lay on a bus
More example sentences
  • Replacement bus services were laid on for rail passengers unable to travel over the weekend.
  • Alternate bus routes have been laid on until normal service is resumed.
  • Tickets will be on sale during the week and a bus service will be laid on from the village to the hall and home again that night.
provide, supply, furnish, give, fix up, line up, organize, prepare, produce, come up with, dispense, purvey, bestow, impart, make available;
2 informal Require (someone) to endure or deal with a responsibility or difficulty: this is an absurdly heavy guilt trip to lay on anyone
More example sentences
  • 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 says it is not fair to lay the entire responsibility on the group, since others may have been involved.
  • She explains that American women are fortunate because our culture values the family and lays responsibilities on men so women can safely have children.

lay someone out

1Prepare someone for burial after death: they laid him out in the cabin in a big wooden box
More example sentences
  • It was later confirmed that Kennedy was laid out in the East Room prior to his burial in Arlington.
  • The design comes into its own in the final scene, when Lear and Cordelia are laid out together, finally united in death.
  • The walls of his log cabin-style burial chamber were draped in fabric, and he was laid out on a decorated bronze couch covered with furs and other material.
2 informal Knock someone unconscious: he was lucky that the punch didn’t lay him out
More example sentences
  • If your brother knew what we did he'd lay me out with one punch.
  • The Major was laid out on the floor and a man in a white coat immediately bent over her.
knock out, knock unconscious, knock down, fell, floor, flatten, prostrate
informal KO, kayo, knock for six

lay something out

1Spread something out to its full extent: the police were insisting that suitcases should be opened and their contents laid out her evening dress was laid out on the bed
More example sentences
  • If you were to uncoil a French horn and lay it out to its full length, it would be over six miles long.
  • Carefully holding them he made his way back to the couch and laid the contents out on the coffee table.
  • ‘Thank you so, so much,’ I whispered, laying the dress out on the gown and hugging my aunt tightly.
2Construct or arrange buildings or gardens according to a plan: they proceeded to lay out a new town
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
2.1Arrange and present material for printing and publication: the brochure is beautifully laid out
More example sentences
  • The final feed would end up in the production department, where the text would be laid out and made ready for actual printing.
  • What I liked was that the material is laid out in a reasonable fashion.
  • 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.
design, plan, set out, arrange;
map out, outline, sketch out, rough out, block out, detail, draw up, formulate, work out, frame, draft, plot out, trace out
2.2Explain something clearly and carefully: we need a paper laying out our priorities
More example sentences
  • You have to lay it out for her, explain that her behaviour will end your relationship.
  • 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.
  • Any scientific theory has an exemplary case where the basic ideas and methodologies are laid out clearly and convincingly.
spread out, set out, arrange, display, exhibit, distribute, line up, order
3 informal Spend a sum of money: look at the money I had to lay out for your uniform
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
lavish, squander, waste, dissipate
British informal stump up
North American informal ante up, pony up

lay over

US Break one’s journey: Steven and I will lay over in New York, then fly to London
More example sentences
  • August 1-2: The party runs a short distance on the river and then lays over for a day to rest and explore.
  • This is a short video showing passengers boarding a low floor trolleybus while it lays over at its city centre terminus in Basle, Switzerland.
  • On the return portion of my Turkey trip I will be laid over in Istanbul until the next morning.

lay up

Golf Hit the ball deliberately to a lesser distance than possible, typically in order to avoid a hazard: the conservative thing to do was lay up and settle for a five
More example sentences
  • In fact, I laid up on every par 5 but still made a birdie each time.
  • I debated with my caddie, Stevie, about laying up.
  • 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 the flu
More example sentences
  • The injury that laid him up for so long, and caused him to wreak revenge was self-inflicted, a result of that desperate lunge.
  • My Uncle was laid up with an arthritic problem, but from his couch or hobbling about he would carry on renovation to his house.
  • Her many friends are so sorry to hear she is laid up and we all wish her a speedy recovery.
bedridden, ill in bed, confined to bed, on the sick list, out of action/commission, housebound, immobilized, incapacitated, injured, disabled;
ill, sick, unwell, sickly, poorly, infirm, ailing, off colour, afflicted, indisposed

lay something up

2Put a ship or boat in dock or out of commission: our boats were laid up during the winter months I decided to lay the boat up there
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
3Assemble plies or layers in the arrangement required for the manufacture of plywood or other laminated material: successive plies are laid up until the desired thickness is achieved
More example sentences
  • Simply put, fiberglass materials and core materials are laid up without any resin.
  • But the front wing had complex curves that could cause unexpected shifts in plies as they were laid up, resulting in weak spots.
  • Board and batten patterns are laid up using standard dimension lumber.


Old English lecgan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch leggen and German legen, also to lie1.

Words that rhyme with lay

affray, agley, aka, allay, Angers, A-OK, appellation contrôlée, array, assay, astray, au fait, auto-da-fé, away, aweigh, aye, bay, belay, betray, bey, Bombay, Bordet, boulevardier, bouquet, brae, bray, café au lait, Carné, cassoulet, Cathay, chassé, chevet, chez, chiné, clay, convey, Cray, crème brûlée, crudités, cuvée, cy-pres, day, decay, deejay, dégagé, distinguée, downplay, dray, Dufay, Dushanbe, eh, embay, engagé, essay, everyday, faraway, fay, fey, flay, fray, Frey, fromage frais, gainsay, Gaye, Genet, giclee, gilet, glissé, gray, grey, halfway, hay, heigh, hey, hooray, Hubei, Hué, hurray, inveigh, jay, jeunesse dorée, José, Kay, Kaye, Klee, Kray, Lae, lei, Littré, Lough Neagh, lwei, Mae, maguey, Malay, Mallarmé, Mandalay, Marseilles, may, midday, midway, mislay, misplay, Monterrey, Na-Dene, nay, né, née, neigh, Ney, noway, obey, O'Dea, okay, olé, outlay, outplay, outstay, outweigh, oyez, part-way, pay, Pei, per se, pince-nez, play, portray, pray, prey, purvey, qua, Quai d'Orsay, Rae, rangé, ray, re, reflet, relevé, roman-à-clef, Santa Fé, say, sei, Shar Pei, shay, slay, sleigh, sley, spae, spay, Spey, splay, spray, stay, straightaway, straightway, strathspey, stray, Sui, survey, sway, Taipei, Tay, they, today, tokay, Torbay, Tournai, trait, tray, trey, two-way, ukiyo-e, underlay, way, waylay, Wei, weigh, wey, Whangarei, whey, yea

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There are 4 main definitions of lay in English:

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lay 2

Pronunciation: /leɪ/


1Not ordained into or belonging to the clergy: a lay preacher
More example sentences
  • Modern scholarship has done much to rescue the pastoral reputation and moral seriousness of the clergy and their lay supporters at all levels.
  • 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.
2Not having professional qualifications or expert knowledge, especially in law or medicine: a lay member of the Health Authority
More example sentences
  • Often faculty are not clinicians but other health professionals and lay community members.
  • Newspapers are an important source of information about the results of medical research, both for lay people and health professionals.
  • Like lay rules, most professional rules are tacit and informal and are never formally articulated.


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

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lay 3

Pronunciation: /leɪ/


1A short lyric or narrative poem meant to be sung: a minstrel recited a series of lays
More example sentences
  • James Macpherson based his Ossianic pieces on these lays.
  • We come to the lay's treatment of the third type: the woman, as represented by the wife.
  • In no other of Marie's lays is the roster of personages so heavily weighted toward a single gender.
1.1 literary A song: on his lips there died the cheery lay


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

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lay 4

Pronunciation: /leɪ/
Past of lie1.

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