At bay

a deep, prolonged howl, as of a hound on the scent.
the position or stand of an animal or fugitive that is forced to turn and resist pursuers because it is no longer possible to flee (usually preceded by at or to):
a stag at bay; to bring an escaped convict to bay.
the situation of a person or thing that is forced actively to oppose or to succ-mb to some adverse condition (usually preceded by at or to).
the situation of being actively opposed by an animal, person, etc., so as to be powerless to act fully (often preceded by at).
to howl, especially with a deep, prolonged sound, as a hound on the scent.
to -ssail with deep, prolonged howling:
a troubled hound baying the moon.
to bring to or to hold at bay:
a dog bays its quarry.
a wide semicircular indentation of a sh-r-line, esp between two headlands or peninsulas
an extension of lowland into hills that partly surround it
(us) an extension of prairie into woodland
an alcove or recess in a wall
any partly enclosed compartment, as one in which hay is stored in a barn
see bay window
an area off a road in which vehicles may park or unload, esp one adjacent to a shop, factory, etc
a compartment in an aircraft, esp one used for a specified purpose: the bomb bay
(nautical) a compartment in the forward part of a ship between decks, often used as the ship’s hospital
(brit) a tracked recess in the platform of a railway station, esp one forming the terminus of a branch line
a deep howl or growl, esp of a hound on the scent
at bay

(of a person or animal) forced to turn and face attackers: the dogs held the deer at bay
at a distance: to keep a disease at bay

bring to bay, to force into a position from which retreat is impossible
(intransitive) to howl (at) in deep prolonged tones
(transitive) to utter in a loud prolonged tone
(transitive) to drive to or hold at bay
also called bay laurel, sweet bay. a small evergreen mediterranean laurel, laurus n-bilis, with glossy aromatic leaves, used for flavouring in cooking, and small blackish berries see laurel (sense 1)
any of various other trees with strongly aromatic leaves used in cooking, esp a member of the genera myrica or pimenta
any of several magnolias see sweet bay
any of certain other trees or shrubs, esp bayberry
(pl) a wreath of bay leaves see laurel (sense 6)

a moderate reddish-brown colour
(as adjective): a bay horse

an animal of this colour, esp a horse

late 14c., originally often at the bay; see bay (n.3). figurative use, of human beings in difficulties, is from c.1400. the expression reflects the former more widespread use of at. earlier the expression be at abai was used of the hunted animal, “be unable to escape,” c.1300, from french.

“inlet of the sea,” c.1400, from old french baie, late latin baia (c.640), perhaps ultimately from iberian bahia.

“opening in a wall,” late 14c. (especially bay window, early 15c.), from old french baee “opening, hole, gulf,” noun use of fem. past participle of bayer “to gape, yawn,” from medieval latin batare “gape,” perhaps of imitative origin. it is the bay in sick-bay.

“howl of a dog,” early 14c., earlier “howling chorus raised (by hounds) when in contact with the hunted animal,” c.1300, from old french bayer, from pie root -bai- echoic of howling (cf. greek bauzein, latin baubari “to bark,” english bow-wow; cf. also bawl). from the hunting usage comes the transferred sense of “final encounter,” and thence, on the notion of putting up an effective defense, at bay.

laurel shrub (laurus n-bilis, source of the bay leaf), late 14c., originally only of the berry, from old french baie (12c.) “berry, seed,” from latin baca “berry.” extension to the shrub itself is from 1520s. the leaves or sprigs were woven as wreaths for conquerors or poets. bayberry first recorded 1570s, after the original sense had shifted.

“reddish-brown,” usually of horses, mid-14c., from anglo-french bai (13c.), old french bai, from latin badius “chestnut-brown” (used only of horses), from pie -badyo- “yellow, brown” (cf. old irish buide “yellow”). also elliptical for a horse of this color.

“to bark or howl (at),” late 14c., from bay (n.3). related: bayed; baying.

a body of water partially enclosed by land but having a wide outlet to the sea. a bay is usually smaller than a gulf.

a sp-ce in the cabinet of a personal computer where a storage device, such as a disk drive or cd-rom drive, can be installed.

denotes the estuary of the dead sea at the mouth of the jordan (josh. 15:5; 18:19), also the southern extremity of the same sea (15:2). the same hebrew word is rendered “tongue” in isa. 11:15, where it is used with reference to the forked mouths of the nile. bay in zech. 6:3, 7 denotes the colour of horses, but the original hebrew means strong, and is here used rather to describe the horses as fleet or spirited.

cornered, in distress, as in angry bystanders chased the thief into an alley and held him at bay until the police arrived. this idiom originally came from hunting, where it describes an animal that has been driven back and now faces pursuing hounds. its use for other situations dates from the late 1500s.
see: at bay

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