verb (used with object), laid, laying.
to put or place in a horizontal position or position of rest; set down:
to lay a book on a desk.
to knock or beat down, as from an erect position; strike or throw to the ground:
One punch laid him low.
to put or place in a particular position:
The dog laid its ears back.
to cause to be in a particular state or condition:
Their motives were laid bare.
to set, place, or apply (often followed by to or on):
to lay hands on a child.
to dispose or place in proper position or in an orderly fashion:
to lay bricks.
to place on, along, or under a surface:
to lay a pipeline.
to establish as a basis; set up:
to lay the foundations for further negotiations.
to present or submit for notice or consideration:
I laid my case before the commission.
to present, bring forward, or make, as a claim or charge.
to impute, attribute, or ascribe:
to lay blame on the inspector.
They laid him in the old churchyard.
to bring forth and deposit (an egg or eggs).
to impose as a burden, duty, penalty, or the like:
to lay an embargo on oil shipments.
to place dinner service on (a table); set.
to place on or over a surface, as paint; cover or spread with something else.
to devise or arrange, as a plan.
to deposit as a wager; bet:
He laid $10 on the horse that won the third race.
to set (a trap).
to place, set, or locate:
The scene is laid in France.
to smooth down or make even:
to lay the nap of cloth.
to cause to subside:
laying the clouds of dust with a spray of water.
Slang: Vulgar. to have sexual intercourse with.
to bring (a stick, lash, etc.) down, as on a person, in inflicting punishment.
to form by twisting strands together, as a rope.
Nautical. to move or turn (a sailing vessel) into a certain position or direction.
to aim a cannon in a specified direction at a specified elevation.
to put (dogs) on a scent.
verb (used without object), laid, laying.
to lay eggs.
to wager or bet.
to apply oneself vigorously.
to deal or aim blows vigorously (usually followed by on, at, about, etc.).
Nonstandard. 2 .
South Midland U.S. to plan or scheme (often followed by out).
Midland and Southern U.S. (of the wind) to diminish; subside:
When the wind lays, it’ll rain.
Nautical. to take up a specified position, direction, etc.:
to lay aloft; to lay close to the wind.
the way or position in which a thing is laid or lies:
the lay of the land.
Ropemaking. the quality of a fiber rope characterized by the degree of twist, the angles formed by the strands, and the fibers in the strands.
Also called lay-up, spread. (in the garment industry) multiple layers of fabric upon which a pattern or guide is placed for production-line cutting.
Textiles. 3 (defs 1, 2).
a share of the profits or the catch of a whaling or fishing voyage, distributed to officers and crew.
lay back, Slang. to relax.
lay for, Informal. to wait for in order to attack or surprise; lie in wait for:
The police are laying for him.
lay in, to store away for future use:
We laid in a supply of canned goods.
lay into, Informal. to attack physically or verbally; assail:
He laid into the opposition with fiery words.
get laid, Slang: Vulgar. to have sexual intercourse.
lay aboard, Nautical. (formerly, of a fighting ship) to come alongside (another fighting ship) in order to board.
lay about one,
lay a course,
lay close, Nautical. (of a sailing vessel) to sail close to the wind.
lay it on, to exaggerate in one’s speech or actions, especially to engage in exaggerated flattery or reproof:
She was glad to be told what a splendid person she was, but they didn’t have to lay it on so much.
Also, lay it on thick.
lay low. 1 (defs 50, 51).
lay oneself out, Informal. to try one’s best; make a great effort:
They laid themselves out to see that the reception would be a success.
lay siege to. (def 9).
simple past tense of 2 .
verb (mainly transitive) lays, laying, laid (leɪd)
to put in a low or horizontal position; cause to lie: to lay a cover on a bed
to place, put, or be in a particular state or position: he laid his finger on his lips
(intransitive) (not standard) to be in a horizontal position; lie: he often lays in bed all the morning
(sometimes foll by down) to establish as a basis: to lay a foundation for discussion
to place or dispose in the proper position: to lay a carpet
to arrange (a table) for eating a meal
to prepare (a fire) for lighting by arranging fuel in the grate
(also intransitive) (of birds, esp the domestic hen) to produce (eggs)
to present or put forward: he laid his case before the magistrate
to impute or attribute: all the blame was laid on him
to arrange, devise, or prepare: to lay a trap
to place, set, or locate: the scene is laid in London
to apply on or as if on a surface: to lay a coat of paint
to impose as a penalty or burden: to lay a fine
to make (a bet) with (someone): I lay you five to one on Prince
to cause to settle: to lay the dust
to allay; suppress: to lay a rumour
to bring down forcefully: to lay a whip on someone’s back
(slang) to have sexual intercourse with
(slang) to bet on (a horse) to lose a race
to press down or make smooth: to lay the nap of cloth
to cut (small trunks or branches of shrubs or trees) halfway through and bend them diagonally to form a hedge: to lay a hedge
to arrange and twist together (strands) in order to form (a rope, cable, etc)
(military) to apply settings of elevation and training to (a weapon) prior to firing
(foll by on) (hunting) to put (hounds or other dogs) onto a scent
another word for inlay
(intransitive; often foll by to or out) (dialect or informal) to plan, scheme, or devise
(intransitive) (nautical) to move or go, esp into a specified position or direction: to lay close to the wind
(nautical) lay aboard, (formerly) to move alongside a warship to board it
lay a course
lay bare, to reveal or explain: he laid bare his plans
lay hands on, See hands (sense 12)
lay hold of, to seize or grasp
lay oneself open, to make oneself vulnerable (to criticism, attack, etc): by making such a statement he laid himself open to accusations of favouritism
lay open, to reveal or disclose
lay siege to, to besiege (a city, etc)
the manner or position in which something lies or is placed
a portion of the catch or the profits from a whaling or fishing expedition
the amount or direction of hoist in the strands of a rope
of, involving, or belonging to people who are not clergy
nonprofessional or nonspecialist; amateur
a ballad or short narrative poem, esp one intended to be sung
a song or melody
the past tense of lie2
Old English lecgan “to place on the ground (or other surface),” also “put down (often by striking),” from Proto-Germanic *lagjanan (cf. Old Saxon leggian, Old Norse leggja, Old Frisian ledza, Middle Dutch legghan, Dutch leggen, Old High German lecken, German legen, Gothic lagjan “to lay, put, place”), causative of lie (v.2). As a noun, from 1550s, “act of laying.” Meaning “way in which something is laid” (e.g. lay of the land) first recorded 1819.
Meaning “have sex with” first recorded 1934, in U.S. slang, probably from sense of “deposit” (which was in Old English, as in lay an egg, lay a bet, etc.), perhaps reinforced by to lie with, a phrase frequently met in the Bible. The noun meaning “woman available for sexual intercourse” is attested from 1930, but there are suggestions of it in stage puns from as far back as 1767. To lay for (someone) “await a chance at revenge” is from late 15c.; lay low “stay inconspicuous” is from 1839. To lay (someone) low preserves the secondary Old English sense.
“uneducated; non-clerical,” early 14c., from Old French lai “secular, not of the clergy” (Modern French laïque), from Late Latin laicus, from Greek laikos “of the people,” from laos “people,” of unknown origin. In Middle English, contrasted with learned, a sense revived 1810 for “non-expert.”
“short song,” mid-13c., from Old French lai “song, lyric,” of unknown origin, perhaps from Celtic (cf. Irish laid “song, poem,” Gaelic laoidh “poem, verse, play”) because the earliest verses so called were Arthurian ballads, but OED finds this “out of the question” and prefers a theory which traces it to a Germanic source, cf. Old High German leich “play, melody, song.”
noun 1. Theology. a rite in which the cleric’s hands are placed on the head of a person being confirmed, ordained, or the like. 2. (in divine healing) the placing of the hands of the healer upon the person to be cured. noun 1. (in Christian ordination, confirmation, faith healing, etc) the act of laying […]
noun, Law. 1. a layperson who is interposed between a lawyer and client to prevent the existence of a direct relationship between them.
- Lay into someone
verb phrase To attack someone, physically or verbally: That’s why I laid into Eckert and made him drive me down that night (1838+)
- Lay it on someone
verb phrase To tell; inform; clue: If you know it, please lay it on me (1960+)