Meaning of LAY in English




( lays, laying, laid)

Frequency: The word is one of the 1500 most common words in English.

Note: In standard English, the form 'lay' is also the past tense of the verb 'lie' in some meanings. In informal English, people sometimes use the word 'lay' instead of 'lie' in those meanings.

Please look at category 9 to see if the expression you are looking for is shown under another headword.


If you lay something somewhere, you put it there in a careful, gentle, or neat way.

Lay a sheet of newspaper on the floor...

My father’s working bench was covered with a cloth and his coffin was laid there...

Mothers routinely lay babies on their backs to sleep.

VERB : V n prep / adv , V n prep / adv , V n prep / adv


If you lay the table or lay the places at a table, you arrange the knives, forks, and other things that people need on the table before a meal. ( mainly BRIT; in AM, use set )

The butler always laid the table.

VERB : V n


If you lay something such as carpets, cables, or foundations, you put them into their permanent position.

A man came to lay the saloon carpet...

Public utilities dig up roads to lay pipes.

VERB : V n , V n


To lay a trap means to prepare it in order to catch someone or something.

They were laying a trap for the kidnapper.

VERB : V n


When a female bird lays an egg, it produces an egg by pushing it out of its body.

My canary has laid an egg...

Freezing weather in spring hampered the hens’ ability to lay.

VERB : V n , V


Lay is used with some nouns to talk about making official preparations for something. For example, if you lay the basis for something or lay plans for it, you prepare it carefully.

Diplomats meeting in Chile have laid the groundwork for far-reaching environmental regulations...

The organisers meet in March to lay plans.

VERB : V n , V n


Lay is used with some nouns in expressions about accusing or blaming someone. For example, if you lay the blame for a mistake on someone, you say it is their fault, or if the police lay charges against someone, they officially accuse that person of a crime.

She refused to lay the blame on any one party...

Police have decided not to lay charges over allegations of a telephone tapping operation.

VERB : V n prep , V n


If you lay yourself open to criticism or attack, or if something lays you open to it, something you do makes it possible or likely that other people will criticize or attack you.

The party thereby lays itself open to charges of conflict of interest...

Such a statement could lay her open to ridicule.

PHRASE : V inflects , PHR n


to lay something bare: see bare

to lay claim to something : see claim

to lay something at someone’s door: see door

to lay eyes on something : see eye

to lay a finger on someone : see finger

to lay your hands on something : see hand

to lay down the law: see law

to lay down your life: see life

to lay something to rest: see rest

to lay siege to something : see siege




You use lay to describe people who are involved with a Christian church but are not members of the clergy or are not monks or nuns.

Edwards is a Methodist lay preacher and social worker.



You use lay to describe people who are not experts or professionals in a particular subject or activity.

It is difficult for a lay person to gain access to medical libraries...


Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Английский словарь Коллинз COBUILD для изучающих язык на продвинутом уровне.