Meaning of LAY in English
/ leɪ; NAmE / verb , adjective , noun
—see also lie verb
( laid , laid / leɪd; NAmE /)
PUT DOWN / SPREAD
[usually + adv. / prep. ] to put sb/sth in a particular position, especially when it is done gently or carefully :
[ vn ]
She laid the baby down gently on the bed.
He laid a hand on my arm.
The horse laid back its ears.
Relatives laid wreaths on the grave.
[ vn - adj ]
The cloth should be laid flat.
HELP NOTE : Some speakers confuse this sense of lay with lie , especially in the present and progressive tenses. However, lay has an object and lie does not:
She was lying on the beach.
She was laying on the beach.
Why don't you lie on the bed?
Why don't you lay on the bed? In the past tenses laid (from
) is often wrongly used for lay or lain (from
She had lain there all night.
She had laid there all night.
[ vn ] lay sth (down) to put sth down, especially on the floor, ready to be used :
to lay a carpet / cable / pipe
The foundations of the house are being laid today.
( figurative )
They had laid the groundwork for future development.
[ vn ] lay A (on / over B) | lay B with A to spread sth on sth; to cover sth with a layer of sth :
Before they started they laid newspaper on the floor.
The floor was laid with newspaper.
The grapes were laid to dry on racks.
if a bird, an insect, a fish, etc. lays eggs, it produces them from its body :
[ vn ]
The cuckoo lays its eggs in other birds' nests.
[ v ]
The hens are not laying well (= not producing many eggs) .
[ vn ] ( BrE ) to arrange knives, forks, plates, etc. on a table ready for a meal
SYN set :
to lay the table
[ vn ] to present a proposal, some information, etc. to sb for them to think about and decide on :
The bill was laid before Parliament.
[ vn ] ( formal ) to put sb/sth in a particular position or state, especially a difficult or unpleasant one
SYN place :
to lay a responsibility / burden on sb
to lay sb under an obligation to do sth
[ vn ] used with a noun to form a phrase that has the same meaning as the verb related to the noun :
to lay the blame on sb (= to blame sb)
Our teacher lays great stress on good spelling (= stresses it strongly) .
PLAN / TRAP
[ vn ] to prepare sth in detail :
to lay a trap for sb
She began to lay her plans for her escape.
Bad weather can upset even the best-laid plans.
[ vn ] [ often passive ] ( slang ) to have sex with sb :
He went out hoping to get laid that night.
[ vn ] to prepare a fire by arranging wood, sticks or coal
to bet money on sth; to place a bet :
[ vn ]
to lay a bet
She had laid $100 on the favourite.
[ vnn , vn ( that )] [ no passive ]
I'll lay you any money you like (that) he won't come.
Idioms containing lay are at the entries for the nouns and adjectives in the idioms, for example lay sth bare is at bare .
- lay about sb (with sth)
- lay about you / yourself (with sth)
- lay sth aside
- lay sth down
- lay sth in / up
- lay into sb/sth
- lay off | lay off sb/sth
- lay off sth
- lay sb off
- lay sth on
- lay sth on sb
- lay sb out
- lay sth out
- lay over (at / in ... )
- lay sb up
- lay sth up
■ adjective [ only before noun ]
not having expert knowledge or professional qualifications in a particular subject :
His book explains the theory for the lay public.
not in an official position in the Church :
a lay preacher
—see also layman , layperson , laywoman
( taboo , informal ) a partner in sex, especially a woman :
an easy lay (= a person who is ready and willing to have sex)
to be a great lay
( old use ) a poem that was written to be sung, usually telling a story
- the lay of the land
verb and noun sense 1 idsym. and pvsym. Old English lecgan , of Germanic origin; related to Dutch leggen and German legen , also to lie (I).
adjective Middle English : from Old French lai , via late Latin from Greek laïkos , from laos people.
noun sense 2 Middle English : from Old French lai , corresponding to Provençal lais , of unknown origin.
Oxford Advanced Learner's English Dictionary. Оксфордский английский словарь для изучающик язык на продвинутом уровне. 2005