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lay Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun a narrative song with a recurrent refrain
  2. noun a narrative poem of popular origin
  3. verb put into a certain place or abstract location
    set; pose; place; put; position.
    • Put your things here
    • Set the tray down
    • Set the dogs on the scent of the missing children
    • Place emphasis on a certain point
  4. verb put in a horizontal position
    repose; put down.
    • lay the books on the table
    • lay the patient carefully onto the bed
  5. verb prepare or position for action or operation
    • lay a fire
    • lay the foundation for a new health care plan
  6. verb lay eggs
    • This hen doesn't lay
  7. verb impose as a duty, burden, or punishment
    • lay a responsibility on someone
  8. verb be located or situated somewhere; occupy a certain position
  9. verb be lying, be prostrate; be in a horizontal position
    • The sick man lay in bed all day
    • the books are lying on the shelf
  10. verb originate (in)
    dwell; lie in; consist; lie.
    • The problems dwell in the social injustices in this country
  11. verb be and remain in a particular state or condition
    • lie dormant
  12. verb tell an untruth; pretend with intent to deceive
    • Don't lie to your parents
    • She lied when she told me she was only 29
  13. verb have a place in relation to something else
    lie; rest.
    • The fate of Bosnia lies in the hands of the West
    • The responsibility rests with the Allies
  14. verb assume a reclining position
    lie; lie down.
    • lie down on the bed until you feel better
  15. adjective satellite characteristic of those who are not members of the clergy
    secular; laic.
    • set his collar in laic rather than clerical position
    • the lay ministry
  16. adjective satellite not of or from a profession
    • a lay opinion as to the cause of the disease

Lay imperfect
  1. of Lie, to recline.
Lay adjective
F. lai, L. laicus, Gr. of or from the people, lay, from , , people. Cf. Laic.
  1. Of or pertaining to the laity, as distinct from the clergy; as, a lay person; a lay preacher; a lay brother.
  2. Not educated or cultivated; ignorant.Obs.
  3. Not belonging to, or emanating from, a particular profession; unprofessional; as, a lay opinion regarding the nature of a disease.
Lay noun
  1. The laity; the common people. Obs.
    The learned have no more privilege than the lay. B. Jonson.
Lay noun
  1. A meadow. See Lea. Obs. Dryden.
Lay noun
OF.lei faith, law, F. loi law. See Legal.
  1. Faith; creed; religious profession. Obs.
    Of the sect to which that he was born He kept his lay, to which that he was sworn. Chaucer.
  2. A law. Obs. "Many goodly lays." Spenser.
  3. An obligation; a vow. Obs.
    They bound themselves by a sacred lay and oath. Holland.
Lay adjective
OF. lai, lais, prob. of Celtic origin; cf. Ir. laoi, laoidh, song, poem, OIr.laoidh poem, verse; but cf. also AS. lac play, sport, G. leich a sort of poem (cf. Lake to sport). .
  1. A song; a simple lyrical poem; a ballad. Spenser. Sir W. Scott.
  2. A melody; any musical utterance.
    The throstle cock made eke his lay. Chaucer.
Lay transitive verb
OE. leggen, AS. lecgan, causative, fr. licgan to lie; akin to D.leggen, G. legen, Icel. leggja, Goth. lagjan. See Lie to be prostrate.
imperfect & past participle Laid ; present participle & verbal noun Laying
  1. To cause to lie down, to be prostrate, or to lie against something; to put or set down; to deposit; as, to lay a book on the table; to lay a body in the grave; a shower lays the dust.
    A stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den. Dan. vi. 17.
    Soft on the flowery herb I found me laid. Milton.
  2. To place in position; to establish firmly; to arrange with regularity; to dispose in ranks or tiers; as, to lay a corner stone; to lay bricks in a wall; to lay the covers on a table.
  3. To prepare; to make ready; to contrive; to provide; as, to lay a snare, an ambush, or a plan.
  4. To spread on a surface; as, to lay plaster or paint.
  5. To cause to be still; to calm; to allay; to suppress; to exorcise, as an evil spirit.
    After a tempest when the winds are laid. Waller.
  6. To cause to lie dead or dying.
    Brave Cæneus laid Ortygius on the plain, The victor Cæneus was by Turnus slain. Dryden.
  7. To deposit, as a wager; to stake; to risk.
    I dare lay mine honor He will remain so. Shak.
  8. To bring forth and deposit; as, to lay eggs.
  9. To apply; to put.
    She layeth her hands to the spindle. Prov. xxxi. 19.
  10. To impose, as a burden, suffering, or punishment; to assess, as a tax; as, to lay a tax on land.
    The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Is. Iiii. 6.
  11. To impute; to charge; to allege.
    God layeth not folly to them. Job xxiv. 12.
    Lay the fault on us. Shak.
  12. To impose, as a command or a duty; as, to lay commands on one.
  13. To present or offer; as, to lay an indictment in a particular county; to lay a scheme before one.
  14. (Law) To state; to allege; as, to lay the venue. Bouvier.
  15. (Mil.) To point; to aim; as, to lay a gun.
  16. (Rope Making) To put the strands of (a rope, a cable, etc.) in their proper places and twist or unite them; as, to lay a cable or rope.
  17. (Print.) (a) To place and arrange (pages) for a form upon the imposing stone. (b) To place (new type) properly in the cases. Syn. -- See Put, v. t., and the Note under 4th Lie.
Lay intransitive verb
  1. To produce and deposit eggs.
  2. (Naut.) To take a position; to come or go; as, to lay forward; to lay aloft.
  3. To lay a wager; to bet.
Lay noun
  1. That which lies or is laid or is conceived of as having been laid or placed in its position; a row; a stratum; a layer; as, a lay of stone or wood. Addison.
    A viol should have a lay of wire strings below. Bacon.
    ✍ The lay of a rope is right-handed or left-handed according to the hemp or strands are laid up. See Lay, v. t., 16. The lay of land is its topographical situation, esp. its slope and its surface features.
  2. A wager. "My fortunes against any lay worth naming."
  3. (a) A job, price, or profit. Prov. Eng. Wright. (b) A share of the proceeds or profits of an enterprise; as, when a man ships for a whaling voyage, he agrees for a certain lay. U. S.
  4. (Textile Manuf.) (a) A measure of yarn; a les. See 1st Lea (b) The lathe of a loom. See Lathe, 8.
  5. A plan; a scheme. Slang Dickens.

Webster 1913