Meaning of LAY in English


I. ˈlā verb

( laid ˈlād ; lay·ing )

Etymology: Middle English leyen, from Old English lecgan; akin to Old English licgan to lie — more at lie

Date: before 12th century

transitive verb

1. : to beat or strike down with force


a. : to put or set down

lay your books on the table

b. : to place for rest or sleep ; especially : bury

3. : to bring forth and deposit (an egg)

4. : calm , allay

lay the dust

5. : bet , wager

6. : to press down giving a smooth and even surface


a. : to dispose or spread over or on a surface

lay track

lay plaster

b. : to set in order or position

lay a table for dinner

lay brick

c. : to put (strands) in place and twist to form a rope, hawser, or cable ; also : to make by so doing

lay up rope


a. : to impose as a duty, burden, or punishment

lay a tax

b. : to put as a burden of reproach

laid the blame on her

c. : to advance as an accusation : impute

the disaster was laid to faulty inspection

9. : to place (something immaterial) on something

lay stress on grammar

10. : prepare , contrive

a well- laid plan


a. : to bring against or into contact with something : apply

laid the watch to his ear

b. : to prepare or position for action or operation

lay a fire in the fireplace

also : to adjust (a gun) to the proper direction and elevation

12. : to bring to a specified condition

lay waste the land


a. : assert , allege

lay claim to an estate

b. : to submit for examination and judgment

laid her case before the commission

14. often vulgar : to copulate with

intransitive verb

1. : to produce and deposit eggs

2. nonstandard : lie I

3. : wager , bet

4. dialect : plan , prepare


a. : to apply oneself vigorously

laid to his oars

b. : to proceed to a specified place or position on a ship

lay aloft

- lay an egg

- lay eyes on

- lay into

- lay on the table


lay has been used intransitively in the sense of “lie” since the 14th century. The practice was unremarked until around 1770; attempts to correct it have been a fixture of schoolbooks ever since. Generations of teachers and critics have succeeded in taming most literary and learned writing, but intransitive lay persists in familiar speech and is a bit more common in general prose than one might suspect. Much of the problem lies in the confusing similarity of the principal parts of the two words. Another influence may be a folk belief that lie is for people and lay is for things. Some commentators are ready to abandon the distinction, suggesting that lay is on the rise socially. But if it does rise to respectability, it is sure to do so slowly: many people have invested effort in learning to keep lie and lay distinct. Remember that even though many people do use lay for lie, others will judge you unfavorably if you do.

II. noun

Date: 1590

1. : covert , lair

2. : something (as a layer) that lies or is laid


a. : line of action : plan

b. : line of work : occupation


a. : terms of sale or employment : price

b. : share of profit (as on a whaling voyage) paid in lieu of wages


a. : the amount of advance of any point in a rope strand for one turn

b. : the nature of a fiber rope as determined by the amount of twist, the angle of the strands, and the angle of the threads in the strands

6. : the way in which a thing lies or is laid in relation to something else

the lay of the land

7. : the state of one that lays eggs

hens coming into lay


a. usually vulgar : a partner in sexual intercourse

b. usually vulgar : sexual intercourse


past of lie

IV. noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French lai

Date: 13th century

1. : a simple narrative poem : ballad

2. : melody , song

V. adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French lai, from Late Latin laicus, from Greek laikos of the people, from laos people

Date: 15th century

1. : of or relating to the laity : not ecclesiastical

2. : of or relating to members of a religious house occupied with domestic or manual work

a lay brother

3. : not of a particular profession

the lay public

also : lacking extensive knowledge of a particular subject

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate English vocabulary.      Энциклопедический словарь английского языка Merriam Webster.