Main meanings of lay in English

: lay1lay2lay3lay4


Pronunciation /leɪ/

See synonyms for lay

Translate lay into Spanish


  • 1with object and adverbial of place Put (something) down gently or carefully.

    ‘she laid the baby in his cot’
    • ‘he laid a comforting hand over hers’
    • ‘Chuckling, I scooped them up in the palm of my hand and laid them gently on top of a soft pile of Green Stamps and bore them so to London town.’
    • ‘He scoops up a selection of the sliced eggplant and limps over to the grill on his stovetop, where he carefully lays them to cook alongside the red and yellow peppers.’
    • ‘Colt lays his hand gently on her shoulder in solidarity.’
    • ‘He lays a hand gently on my shoulder, stretching his arm further round my back when I do not push him away.’
    • ‘Liza smiled gently, laying her cheek against his chest.’
    • ‘Vincent sighed laying an arm gently over my shoulder.’
    • ‘I frown and move closer to him, laying my hand gently on his shoulder.’
    • ‘Softly and carefully she removed each jewel that kept her hair in place before laying it gently on her lap.’
    • ‘Cleo cradled her broken arm and gently lay it so it was supported by her lap.’
    • ‘The dog whined and gently laid its head into her lap.’
    • ‘He laid the gun gently on the stool next to her plate.’
    • ‘I did as she told me, and she laid the boy gently on my arms.’
    • ‘He gently laid the violin back into its case and locked it shut, handing it to one of the band members to put in the back for safe keeping until he was ready leave.’
    • ‘I gently laid my hands upon her shoulders and heard her quiet tears.’
    • ‘She gently laid the pills next to it and waited for her brother to answer.’
    • ‘She reached out and laid a hand gently on his elbow, and her eyes were soft.’
    • ‘He took off his long jacket and laid it carefully across the back of the chair and took his boots and glasses off as well.’
    • ‘He laid the peasant girl gently in the grass beside him and looked down at her dark eyes brimming with tears.’
    • ‘Sasha laid his new sister carefully in the playpen that had been erected in the corner of the living room.’
    • ‘Becca carefully laid the last pieces of her clarinet in their places and snapped the case shut.’
    put, place, set, put down, set down, deposit, rest, situate, sit, settle, stow, balance, station, drop, leave, let fall, throw down, fling down, deploy, locate, position
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object Prevent (something) from rising off the ground.
      ‘there may have been the odd light shower just to lay the dust’
      • ‘There was a thunder storm here this morning, and I was hoping that the rain might lay the pollen and dust a bit.’
      • ‘The rain the day before cooled the air and laid the dust.’
      • ‘The light rain has laid the dust and little is lifted by your wheels as you drive.’
      • ‘With the state of the roads in those parts, palm branches might have improved the surface no end, and been effective in laying the dust clouds.’
  • 2with object Put down and set in position for use.

    ‘it is advisable to have your carpet laid by a professional’
    • ‘My flat is progressing too, with the bulk of the decorating work likely to be finished this week, and new (cheap and cheerful) carpet to be laid on Wednesday.’
    • ‘The Red Carpet was especially laid for the guests who really enjoyed their stay there.’
    • ‘In addition the ventilation system is being improved, seats have been re-covered and new carpets are being laid.’
    • ‘Overnight these streets have been laid with colored sawdust carpets.’
    • ‘The thick green carpet that was laid down looked almost like real, lush grass.’
    • ‘It's certainly better than the nanotechnology-thick carpet that was previously laid directly onto the concrete screed.’
    • ‘A lovely window seat has been built into one of the bay windows, and a pine floor has just been laid - the carpet was destroyed by our parties.’
    • ‘The ancient and largely uncomfortable seating would be replaced and the giant 2,300-seater Oval Hall redecorated and a new carpet laid.’
    • ‘The recent fall of snow, laid in a thick carpet, deadened any sound, adding to the tranquillity and pristine feel of the mountains.’
    • ‘With the blue carpet only laid recently and the translation booths still to be fitted out, the 13th floor has yet to be finished.’
    • ‘The drums scatter while a trembling, funky bass-riff lays the ground work for the string section to lead.’
    • ‘He grinned against my lips and propelled me towards his bed, but before we got there, I laid some ground rules.’
    • ‘This will lay the ground rules for anyone who tries to seek an exception to go whaling in the future.’
    • ‘This lays the ground for suggesting some means to move forward in the debate.’
    • ‘He hid it away carefully, thus laying the groundwork for a future evil villain to rediscover it at some later time and take over the world then.’
    1. 2.1British Set cutlery, crockery, etc. on (a table) in preparation for a meal.
      ‘she laid the table for dinner’
      • ‘No expense had been spared in the ballroom itself, where the tables had been laid for a lavish banquet.’
      • ‘The Green Room features a table laid ready for a meal.’
      • ‘I remember looking into one and seeing a little dining table laid out with tiny silver cutlery.’
      • ‘She laid the table then went back and returned with two more glasses.’
      • ‘Then off we go to find the dining room, and lay the table.’
      • ‘Once they have prepared and cooked the two-course meal, the children sit down at a table they have laid and eat together.’
      • ‘The tables were being laid, and there's a Bouncy castle for the children.’
      • ‘In the houses located in the Midlands, guests dine at one large polished dining table laid with old family silver.’
      • ‘The gleam of an oil lamp cast a brilliant pool of light through the open door and they saw that a table had been laid for supper.’
      • ‘He stepped into the kitchen to see his sister laying the table for them both.’
      • ‘She turned quickly, in a swirl of black robes, and hurried along the forbidding corridors back to a table laid for two.’
    2. 2.2often be laid withCover (a surface) with objects or a substance.
      ‘the floor was laid with mattresses’
      • ‘As well as the existing handrails, the slopes are also being laid with a non-slip surface.’
      • ‘In recent years, the surface has been laid with sand and loam.’
      • ‘Modern display units feature large sliding trays laid with tiles, enabling customers to envisage a whole floor.’
      • ‘The acupressure track has been laid with stone pebbles and tiles.’
      • ‘In shambles, pavements once laid with tiles were chaotically dug up.’
      • ‘A new plastic surface will also be laid for the event.’
      • ‘The entrance hall has original floor tiles laid out in a herringbone design, moulded cornices and an original ceiling rose.’
      • ‘One example of this was a blind elderly woman who had non-slip tiles laid on her bathroom floor to minimize the risk of injury.’
      • ‘Beautiful golden cream tiles lay upon the floor along with some that were chocolate brown.’
      • ‘The heavy slabs laid to cover drains along the tracks hinder cleaning and have become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.’
      • ‘It will also have a new hard surface laid for older children to play ball games.’
      • ‘And the benefits are promised to be worth the wait with new lights installed, bridges strengthened and a new smoother and quieter road surface laid.’
      • ‘The all-weather surface comprises artificial turf laid onto a rubber composite material, giving a realistic feel.’
      • ‘There's an outside seating area laid with gravel and helpfully placed stone benches.’
      • ‘The bar had a chalkboard of snacks listed, and for a moment my heart sunk, but settled at a window table laid with crisp white linen, the menu for the restaurant was really enticing.’
      • ‘When I arrive in out of the cold, the tables are laid with fresh white tablecloths, gleaming cutlery and sparkling wine glasses.’
    3. 2.3Put the material for (a fire) in place and arrange it.
      ‘he was making newspaper knots before laying a fire in the fireplace’
      • ‘Every one of the 400 bedrooms had a coal fire, laid by the staff each day.’
      • ‘The girl closed the door, lit lamps and a fire that was already laid, then shuttered the only window of the one room cottage, as if wanting privacy.’
      • ‘A fire has been laid for us in the parlour and I am certain we have much to discuss.’
      • ‘The only light came from the fire that had been laid so the room would be a comfortable temperature for me.’
      • ‘The rooms were bigger than The Laughing God's, but no fires had been laid, there were no hot baths, and meals cost two coppers apiece.’
      • ‘Hunter returned to his place by Missy's side in front of the glowing embers of the dying fire laid in the black iron stove.’
      • ‘The crowd was focusing its attention on an old woman who sat next to a fire laid on the stone floor of the classroom.’
      • ‘I hastily finished laying the fire before going down below the stairs to the kitchen.’
    4. 2.4Prepare (a trap) for someone.
      ‘she wouldn't put it past him to lay a trap for her’
      • ‘She had some sort of trap laid and she was preparing to spring it on him.’
      • ‘By now, the immediate surroundings were quiet, most of the troops had mustered at the south side of camp in preparation to spring the trap that had been laid.’
      • ‘He laid a ‘glue trap’ by the hole at the back of my kitchen cupboard.’
      • ‘Those involved in the ambush said a trap had been laid, and that the area was marked with defensive earth berms and firing positions.’
      • ‘But the trap has usually been laid for the opponent, supported by a strong defense and kicking game.’
      • ‘A trap should only be laid if it is part of the overall strategic plan.’
      • ‘They also easily become prey to traps that are indiscriminately laid.’
      • ‘A pest-control company has told me there is no evidence of any activity in the attic, though traps and poison were laid.’
      • ‘At suitable sites, mist nets are strung up, and traps laid that harmlessly snare the birds as they come down to roost or rest.’
      • ‘The course covers the laws about poisons, and the dangers to wildlife, and practical exercises in laying and baiting a trap.’
      • ‘Last weekend, I laid down traps to catch the rats.’
      • ‘There was no off-switch, and the seemingly clean-cut, anti-drugs pop star fell into every artfully concealed trap that fame laid for him.’
      • ‘And stupidity, sheer stupidity, meant that they did not see the trap that they had laid for themselves.’
      • ‘He likes his sport but is only too aware how it can lay dangerous and unseen traps.’
      • ‘It makes bureaucratic booby traps, laid down by government civil servants at their final destination, cruel indeed.’
      • ‘In the ensuing panic, it appears other hostages had inadvertently set off booby traps laid in the theatre by the rebels.’
      • ‘There was still many hours of daylight left, plenty of time to lay out the trap in his mind.’
      • ‘They have fallen into the trap the publishers laid down nearly 300 years ago.’
      • ‘But she wasn't ready to accept him yet, it could be an elaborate trap laid by one of the Four.’
      • ‘We zoom in for a brief moment to show the array of spike traps the police have laid in place to disable the car.’
    5. 2.5Work out (an idea or suggestion) in detail ready for use or presentation.
      ‘I'd like more time to lay my plans’
      • ‘French security sources said that advanced plans had been laid to use a stolen truck or a helicopter loaded with explosives.’
      • ‘Plans had also been laid to raise more then £1 million locally.’
      • ‘Plans are being laid to turn the clock back 60 years across large swathes of the resort for three days in early September.’
      • ‘As stormy weather closes in, delaying passage even longer, Joan's carefully laid plans are dashed upon the rocks by an equally powerful emotional gale.’
      devise, arrange, contrive, make, prepare, work out, hatch, concoct, design, plan, scheme, plot, organize, frame, think up, dream up, cook up, brew, conceive, make ready, get ready, put together, draw up, produce, develop, compose, formulate
      View synonyms
    6. 2.6Locate (an episode in a play, novel, etc.) in a particular place.
      • ‘no one who knew the area could be in doubt where the scene was laid’
    7. 2.7with object Stake (an amount of money) in a bet.
      ‘she suspected he was pulling her leg, but she wouldn't have laid money on it’
      • ‘Something funny is going on here… I'd lay all my money on a bet that it was the Emperor who sent that spell to kill me.’
      • ‘But despite taking $25,000 bets before, she will be content with laying a more modest wager.’
      • ‘The money was duly laid down, so Lucas whipped off his kit and plunged in.’
      bet, wager, gamble, stake, hazard, risk, chance, venture
      View synonyms
  • 3with object Used with an abstract noun so that the phrase formed has the same meaning as the verb related to the noun used, e.g. ‘lay the blame on’ means ‘to blame’

    ‘she laid great stress on little courtesies’
    • ‘Yet not all the blame can be laid at the feet of the activists, because it was the very nature of the government's debate process that encouraged them to act as they did.’
    • ‘Much blame can be laid on the corrupt and profit-ravenous food industry that shovels false information and dreadful products down our throats all day long.’
    • ‘The blame here cannot be laid on some interagency squabble between, say, the State Department and the Pentagon.’
    • ‘All the mistakes are clearly coming into the light, blame is being laid down hard and fast and there is nowhere to hide, not a spin left in the cycle.’
    • ‘True blame must be laid at the feet of those who refuse to accept that there is a need now, more that ever before, for constitutional reform.’
    • ‘No single reason explains this sorry state of affairs - the region is too parti-coloured for the blame to be laid at any one door.’
    • ‘If any blame is to be laid at all, it is at the defense's door for this delay.’
    • ‘But the blame cannot be laid solely at the door of the organisation and its leaders.’
    • ‘The finger of blame cannot be laid at the door of the team management, for our planning was immaculate.’
    • ‘If blame is to be laid, it should be at the feet of a handful of aged and godly spinsters and widows who taught me through my primary education.’
    • ‘The report lays much of the blame at door of the UK's planning authorities.’
    • ‘There are, after all, dangers in laying all the blame at the manufacturer's door.’
    • ‘We cannot lay all the blame on foreigners visiting the country.’
    • ‘It's just easier to lay all the blame squarely on the shoulders of smokers.’
    • ‘Yet it is all too easy to lay all the blame at the door of the coach and call for quick fixes.’
    • ‘The conference is of great significance to the institute, as special stress would be laid on developing a training programme for it.’
    • ‘I suppose I should not lay too much blame at the door of the opposite sex.’
    • ‘Too much stress cannot be laid on this point since it is perhaps the most important of all, certainly quite as important as the maintenance of perfect balance.’
    • ‘Then stress should be laid accordingly so that one treats the root.’
    • ‘Stress must be laid on product quality and benefits before any discussions on price.’
    assign, attribute, ascribe, allocate, allot, impute, attach, impose, fix
    View synonyms
  • 4with object (of a female bird, insect, reptile, or amphibian) produce (an egg) from inside the body.

    ‘flamingos lay only one egg’
    • ‘the hens were laying at the same rate as usual’
    • ‘The female wasp lays her eggs inside the developing medfly egg.’
    • ‘A female butterfly lays an egg that looks like a miniature pearl, or a squashed golf ball, or a whiskey barrel.’
    • ‘Female flies lay eggs every two or three days, 300 eggs each time, which means the number of flies will rocket if not controlled.’
    • ‘The adult female louse lays eggs, which hatch after seven days, in sacs adjacent to the scalp.’
    • ‘Female turtles begin laying their eggs at age 50 and then come back to lay them every six years for another 50 years.’
    • ‘Most adult female sea turtles will lay several hundred eggs during a nesting season.’
    • ‘Being reptiles, the crocodilians lay eggs, but they are not abandoned by mother croc.’
    • ‘The female beetle lays eggs only where she knows aphids are present.’
    • ‘These host plants are where the female butterfly will eventually lay her eggs.’
    • ‘However, some insects selfishly lay their own eggs in empty cells rather than taking care of the queen's eggs.’
    • ‘They were overjoyed as the mother bird laid eggs.’
    • ‘A mother bird lays her eggs and protects them as they grow.’
    • ‘In fact most perching birds lay eggs that are mostly white except for a ring of reddish spots around the blunt end.’
    • ‘In the middle of it all, this bird laid an egg but abandoned it and continued to mate.’
    • ‘The moth lays eggs, and the larvae leave silvery trails as they damage the foliage.’
    • ‘When a bee lays its eggs, it also provides a packet of pollen and nectar - like an energy gel for a long bike ride - for its offspring.’
    • ‘At night on the beaches, giant turtles would lay their eggs.’
    • ‘For example, turtles lay their eggs within hours in beach sand and then leave them.’
    • ‘The initial report said that the beaches of both islands are places where sea turtles lay their eggs.’
    • ‘On another day, we all rushed to the headman's home after hearing that a chicken had laid a strange egg.’
  • 5 vulgar slang with object Have sex with.

  • 6Nautical
    with object Follow (a specified course)

    • ‘I'm going to lay a course for Ibiza harbour’
  • 7with object Trim (a hedge) back, cutting the branches half through, bending them down, and interweaving them.

    ‘most hedges are no longer laid’
    • ‘I had just arrived in the park to do some hedge laying.’
    • ‘He was particularly skilled at draining with hand tools and either laying or cutting thorn hedges.’
    • ‘The ancient art of hedge laying is alive and well thanks to a lone Preston craftsman, plying his trade around the area's villages.’
    • ‘Pay particular attention to the topping or lopping of trees or the trimming or laying of hedges.’
    • ‘All entrants should have some hedge laying experience and onlookers are welcome.’
    • ‘Members of the group spend Sundays laying hedges and developing the grounds of the church.’


  • 1in singular The general appearance of an area of land.

    ‘the lay of the surrounding countryside’
    • ‘Not doing more than getting the lay of the land, but they were there.’
    • ‘As they say, there is safety in numbers, so if you're in an unfamiliar place, stay with a group, at least until you know the lay of the land.’
    • ‘Let's take a look at some satellite imagery, give you a sense of the lay of the land of where those pictures are coming from.’
    • ‘And he sees it all and always has a real good feeling about the lay of the land, but his heart is really unique.’
    • ‘In addition to learning the lay of the land, we would work out logistics for travel with twenty students.’
    • ‘Give us a lay of the land right now, just about two weeks before the caucuses.’
    • ‘Which is pretty much the way to evaluate the current lay of the land in Ukraine.’
    • ‘They know the lay of the land literally, and they know what a hurricane of this type will do.’
    • ‘I just did not think that where we were in the lay of the land that water was going to collect here.’
    • ‘Just as we are getting a feel for the lay of the land, we stumble on a new wing we had almost forgotten had existed.’
    • ‘I'm sort of going to give you the lay of the land and then we'll go inside.’
    • ‘They dream of living off the land of their parents - but the lay of the land has changed a lot since 1948.’
    • ‘Animals are often better at working out the lay of the land than are human beings, and Isobel's horse was no exception.’
    • ‘She was trying to get the lay of the land, not to get herself laid.’
    • ‘The lay of the land is also a defensive tool for the prudent general.’
    • ‘Then, in a remarkable burst of rail building energy, engineers began cutting straight swaths across the lay of the land.’
    • ‘She had no idea of the lay of the surrounding land, and nowhere to stay.’
    • ‘Each one was adept at their trade; they knew the lay of their respective lands.’
    • ‘JB knew the lay of the land pretty well and steered us to a hotel on O'Farrell.’
    • ‘And Bip and Bop they knew the lay of the land.’
    1. 1.1The position or direction in which something lies.
      • ‘roll the carpet against the lay of the nap’
    2. 1.2The direction or amount of twist in rope strands.
  • 2 vulgar slang An act or instance of having sex.

    1. 2.1with adjective A person with a particular ability or availability as a sexual partner.
  • 3mass noun The laying of eggs or the period during which they are laid.

    ‘the onset of lay may be marked by a dropping of the duck's abdomen’
    • ‘Both male and female breeders are subject to a restricted feeding regime for their first few weeks of life - about 20 days to the point of lay.’


The verb lay means, broadly, ‘put something down’, as in they are going to lay the carpet. The past tense and the past participle of this verb is laid, as in they laid the groundwork or she had laid careful plans. The verb lie, on the other hand, means ‘be in a horizontal position to rest’, as in why don't you lie on the floor? The past tense of this verb is lay (he lay on the floor) and the past participle is lain (she had lain on the bed for hours). Thus, in correct use, lay can be either the past tense of lie or the base form of lay. In practice many people make the mistake of using lay, laying, and laid as if they meant lie, lying, lay, and lain. Examples of incorrect use: why don't you lay on the bed? (correct form is lie); she was laying on the bed (correct form is lying); he had laid on the floor for hours (correct form is lain)


    get laid
    • Have sex.

      • ‘He was keeping himself busy with his life's work - trying and failing to get laid.’
      • ‘He had a Playboy duvet cover and still got laid!’
      • ‘I don't go out to get laid - I go out to have fun.’
      • ‘What does one's opinion on politics have to do with getting laid?’
      • ‘It's like they all just went on the show to get laid more than usual.’
    in lay
    • (of a hen) laying eggs regularly.

      ‘Velogenic viral infection of chickens and turkeys in lay usually reveal egg yolk in the abdominal cavity with flaccid, degenerative follicles.’
      • ‘When she is in lay, she lays an egg a day - usually in the morning.’
      • ‘Laying chickens produce 265-280 eggs during the 13-14 months they are in lay.’
      • ‘When fully grown the chicken should sport a nice firm comb; The comb will be bright red when the chicken is in lay.’
    lay a charge
    • Make an accusation.

      ‘we could lay a charge of gross negligence’
      • ‘I didn't think they had sufficient evidence to lay a charge, let alone obtain a conviction and that view hasn't changed after what I've seen today.’
      • ‘Yet the Children's Bill says ‘a male child that was subjected to circumcision against his will may lay a charge of assault’.’
      • ‘I told him I wanted to lay a charge of assault, and he told me he had two witnesses who would say I had assaulted him.’
      • ‘The incident resulted in the 26-year-old woman laying a charge of rape against the 53-year-old judge, who was arrested and has spent the past few days in prison.’
      • ‘The information gathered through the investigation did not merit laying a charge against anyone.’
      • ‘It is significantly different than laying a charge for the purpose of furthering a civil claim.’
      • ‘The prosecutor should not lay a charge where there is no reasonable prospect of securing a conviction before a reasonable jury.’
      • ‘When he went to lay a charge at the local police station, the police officer on duty refused to open a case, claiming that he could not open a case for a R20 robbery.’
      • ‘It is not even clear that they have to lay a charge or, if a person is found not guilty, that they have to return those things that they have seized.’
      • ‘He said a shot was fired at him at the nightclub and he went to the police station to lay a charge of attempted murder.’
    lay claim to
    • 1Assert that one has a right to (something)

      ‘four men laid claim to the leadership’
      • ‘Four young sisters have laid claim to being Bolton's most musical family after two of them landed places in national orchestras.’
      • ‘He bravely handled the pressure, stringing four flawless racks to lay claim to victory and the US $75,000 first-place check.’
      • ‘Japan has laid claim to all the islands seized by Soviet troops at the end of World War II but Russia maintains the issue only involves part of them.’
      • ‘So 2 percent of the people are laying claim to 10 percent of the coastline; where is the justice in that?’
      • ‘The Portuguese were, unlike the other European imperial powers in laying claim to what were in effect not rights of property but rights to use.’
      • ‘Perhaps a jealous third party, who previously had owned and photographed this object, was laying claim to it now that it carried a high estimate in the catalogue.’
      • ‘Because his own title to the crown was doubtful, he laid claim to that of France.’
      1. 1.1Assert that one possesses (a skill or quality)
        ‘she has never laid claim to medical knowledge’
        • ‘In seeking to define himself as Australia's next leader, he lays claim to possessing a key quality he reveres.’
        • ‘Other religious systems may also lay claim to some of these qualities, but not to the totality of these.’
        • ‘No, he possesses the real genius that only our greatest comedians can lay claim to.’
        • ‘They laid claim to medical expertise as psychiatrists, and urged that patients be treated in clinics and private practices in the early stages of their illness.’
        • ‘Please feel free to point out any factual inaccuracies - I am well aware that there are many folks around with more knowledge of this subject than I could possibly lay claim to.’
        • ‘Certainly I am still early in my aikido development - I am a sandan, and lay claim to no special level of skill or talent.’
        • ‘I find it amusing that so many actresses and models lay claim to one or more of these attributes.’
        • ‘We were led by Stephanie, who grew coffee in Kona and thus lays claim to more coffee knowledge than the rest of us combined.’
        • ‘Begging doesn't suit him, but honor is something he no longer lays claim to.’
        • ‘One thing that is worse than doing things badly is doing things badly and laying claim to 100 percent purity and clean, greenness.’
    lay down one's arms
    • Cease fighting.

      ‘Negotiations cannot convince the militia's leaders to lay down their arms.’
      • ‘More than 600 attended his funeral in Leytonstone to hear family members appeal to local youngsters to lay down their weapons.’
      • ‘An estimated 4000 people have reportedly laid down their arms.’
      • ‘Of the 50, 514 soldiers who have laid down their arms, 44, 995 have entered into the reintegration programme.’
      • ‘Another faction, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), laid down its arms five years ago.’
      • ‘The Defendant has from that moment laid down its arms.’
      • ‘That mission is facing warring factions to lay down their weapons.’
      • ‘If everyone disarms and lays down their weapons, they'll even let the fighters go.’
      • ‘Many in the militia have laid down their weapons.’
      • ‘We have with certain knowledge the fact that thousands more have laid down their weapons and have gone home.’
      • ‘Supporters of the rebel stood by their promise to lay down their weapons peacefully.’
      • ‘The Welsh laid down their weapons for the feast but the drunken merry making came to a dramatic halt when William challenged them never again to bear arms in his domains.’
      • ‘Opposition politicians refuse to participate in new elections unless he steps down, and the rebels say they will lay down their weapons only when he is ousted.’
      • ‘He pressed ahead with a policy of reconciliation, drawing up a civil concord whereby armed groups would be amnestied if they laid down their arms.’
    lay down one's life
    • Sacrifice one's life for a cause.

      ‘the willingness of British troops to lay down their lives for their country is a humbling thought’
      • ‘I do not mean to belittle the heroic deeds achieved by the pioneers, some whom even laid down their lives in fighting crime.’
      • ‘The scripture in the Bible says no greater love hath no man than a man who lays down his life for his friends.’
      • ‘Now I find myself mother to five beautiful, intelligent, creative children for whom I would lay down my life in an instant.’
      • ‘Over 1100 men of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) laid down their lives in Sri Lanka.’
      • ‘The great Sikh martyr Baba Deep Singh laid down his life in revenge.’
      • ‘Rejected by his own, he willingly lays down his life.’
      • ‘He paid tributes at AOC War Memorial to soldiers who had laid down their lives for the cause of the nation.’
      • ‘They are not afraid to lay down their lives for what they believed.’
      • ‘One may, of course, literally have to lay down one's life.’
      • ‘Men and women who of their own volition have said they are willing to lay down their lives for a country they believe in.’
    lay hands on
    • 1Find and take possession of.

      ‘they huddled trying to keep warm under anything they could lay hands on’
      • ‘I would spend as much time as I possibly could tucked away in different corners of the house reading pretty much anything I could lay my hands on on the subject.’
      • ‘As soon as I could walk I started to draw on anything with everything I could lay my hands on: walls, furniture, nothing was safe for me.’
      • ‘In short, your business is far from being destroyed if you manage to lay your hands on this membership.’
    • 2Place one's hands on or over, especially in confirmation, ordination, or spiritual healing.

      ‘at the healing service, the clergy offered to lay hands on anyone who wished it’
      • ‘It is still used in the ceremony of confirmation, where a bishop, priest, or minister lays hands on the confirmand and prays for them to receive the Holy Spirit.’
      • ‘He asked for prayer and the brother complied, laying hands on him and asking God to anoint him so that he might lay hands on his friend for healing.’
      • ‘Only two out of the six churches I’ve served since 1981 felt the freedom and the need to lay hands on people and pray for healing.’
      • ‘Myself and another lady laid our hands on the spot that hurts him the most and prayed for him on Sunday.’
    lay hold of
    • Catch or gain possession of.

      ‘he was afraid she might vanish if he did not lay hold of her’
      • ‘But lay hold on this inescapable fact - one day, all death will be abolished.’
      • ‘This is what the author is clearly reaching out for in this section, but does not fully lay hold of.’
      • ‘‘In all the districts I visited every opportunity of collecting the folk-lore was laid hold of, and a good deal of it […] was gathered ’.’
      • ‘Boyle argued that only by laying hold of atomist ideas could the occult and teleological influence of the alchemists be removed from the subject.’
      • ‘One thing is especially proved by the Paris Commune, that the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes.’
      • ‘The real revolution in philosophy would be to regard the contingencies of history as the means by which we lay hold of reality.’
      • ‘The war is fundamentally an attempt by the US to lay hold of these natural resources by force of arms.’
      • ‘Then you will notice that the original founders of religion, admirably laying hold of pure simplicity, were the bitterest foes of literary learning.’
      • ‘Ever since the emergence of the early state, various handfuls of people have been laying hold of inordinate amounts of wealth and power.’
      • ‘The monster laid hold of him, but Beowulf kept in mind his strength, the precious gift’
    lay oneself out to do something
    mainly British
    • Make a special effort to do something.

      ‘she's laying herself out to be pleasant’
      • ‘If you start talking about power, you're really laying yourself out to be challenged on just how powerful you are, so people never do it unless they're pretty sure of their ground.’
      • ‘Look round the circle in which your lot is cast, and lay yourself out to be useful.’
      • ‘I had to get work, and I laid myself out to get it.’
      • ‘What he desires is to absorb as many lives as he can, and he has laid himself out to achieve it in a cumulative way.’
      • ‘He really laid himself out to express what was in his mind.’
    lay someone low
    • 1(of an illness) reduce someone to inactivity.

      ‘he was laid low by a stomach bug’
      • ‘Rain, thunder and lightning of epic proportions have not succeeded in cleaning the air and we are laid low with massive headaches, blocked sinuses and pervasive brain fog.’
      • ‘However, Dove has been laid low by a virus all week and his chances of being involved at the weekend are 50-50.’
      • ‘I am sure producers and TV executives everywhere were sorry to hear that Jon had been laid low by pneumonia before Christmas and like me wished him a speedy recovery.’
      • ‘And despite a heavy cold laying her low over Christmas, she does not intend to make that jump her last.’
      • ‘Not enough to lay me low, but enough to make me tired and miserable and feel a bit sorry for myself.’
      • ‘The cold - which laid me low for days - is nearly over.’
      • ‘I've been sore for a month, and one short day of skiing laid me low.’
      • ‘Anyway, I thought, a nice bacterial infection might zap the mystery virus that's laid me low for the past year or so.’
      • ‘I did have dengue fever last year which laid me low, I was in hospital for a week.’
      • ‘Even when a stroke laid him low, he was doing sit-ups and press-ups by his hospital bed.’
      • ‘No sooner did I return from vacation than I was laid low with horrific stomach flu - I've been barely able to get out of bed for the last week.’
      1. 1.1Bring to an end the high position or good fortune formerly enjoyed by someone.
        ‘she reflected on how quickly fate can lay a person low’
        • ‘That's also the premise which lays them low - most people don't have the time to do overly intensive data entry.’
        • ‘Should he make that connection, he would be perfectly within his rights to lay you low for looking for information that is none of your business.’
        • ‘He is the archenemy to the Order and has vowed to lay them low one way or another.’
    lay someone open to
    • Expose someone to the risk of (something)

      ‘his position could lay him open to accusations of favouritism’
      • ‘The public must realise all surgical procedures carry risks and having plastic surgery lays them open to all of these.’
      • ‘Privacy campaigners say the system lays you open to permanent surveillance.’
      • ‘If asked I would certainly refuse to rub down women because it lays you open to allegations of assault.’
      • ‘Because I think it lays us open to the suggestion that we were avoiding them, and I think that is unwise.’
      • ‘Spotlighting their demands and various forms of activism, it also lays them open to the charge of providing a pretext for foreign intervention in their domestic affairs.’
      • ‘Or do all such systems lay you open to spontaneous global chatting?’
      • ‘His accuser is a former drinking and gambling mate, whose allegations have laid him open to prosecution.’
      • ‘Her denials may have worked technically but laid her open to ridicule.’
      • ‘I gather too they were somewhat concerned by your argument that taking the case on a no-win, no-fee basis lays them open to a counter-suit from you’
    lay something bare
    • Bring something out of concealment; expose something.

      ‘the sad tale of failure was laid bare’
      • ‘Much of its former usages were laid bare for exhibitions.’
      • ‘The ‘chilling’ methods used by tobacco companies to market cigarettes were laid bare today as thousands of previously confidential papers were published on the internet.’
      • ‘It left me exposed, like my heart was laid bare before him.’
      • ‘In this fashion, the whole of our belief system and our culture is laid bare and destroyed.’
      • ‘The ‘appalling’ state of a crisis-hit council's finances were laid bare yesterday, amid warnings that most services faced swingeing cuts.’
      • ‘They said they hoped to make the specialist worker's appointment a permanent one after the scale of the problem was laid bare by police figures.’
      • ‘The carnage of a motorcycle crash will be laid bare before bikers when they are given the chance to see the gruesome results.’
      • ‘On the new timescale, the truth about the truth is laid bare.’
      • ‘Check out the back pages of any glossy magazine and the dream is laid bare.’
      • ‘Thanks to all of you, whatever your persuasion, politics or faction, for your dedication to stripping down the issues and occasionally laying them bare.’
    lay something on thick
    • Grossly exaggerate or overemphasize something.

      • ‘the message is laid on with a trowel for three hours’
      • ‘There was some speculation that he might simply be laying the melodrama on thick for the benefit of the crowd, but I don't see it.’
      • ‘Before she started publishing her guidebooks, the words in most botanical tomes were laid on with a trowel, leaving no room for illustrations.’
      • ‘Occasionally, the tone can be too sentimental and some of the historic background is laid on with a trowel, but these are quibbles.’
      • ‘In the name of race relations, satire and social commentary, he lays it on thick, offering egocentric observations like ‘She didn't finish high school’.’
      • ‘She lays it on thick about how she's always loved your work and how she thinks you could make beautiful music together.’
      • ‘He knows how to lay it on thick when he needs to, you know?’
      • ‘Someone could have a bone to pick with you soon, and they'll lay it on thick as sauce.’
      • ‘I laid it on with a trowel, and of course she deserved it.’
      • ‘Philip lays it on thick, telling her that he forgives her for faking the pregnancy, and that he is sorry for leaving her at the altar.’
      • ‘I can safely say this: the English-speaking voice actors are bad, laying it on thick and heavy, without an ounce of subtlety.’
    lay the ghost
    • 1Exorcise a ghost.

      ‘Mick said there were stories of various attempts to lay the ghost.’
      • ‘And perhaps some form of exorcism or " laying the ghost ".’
      1. 1.1Finally cease to be troubled by the memory of an unpleasant situation or event.
        ‘we need to lay the ghost of the past and move ahead’
        • ‘The army prided itself in re-establishing its deterrence over Hamas, laying the ghosts of Lebanon in 2006.’
        • ‘Cougars are out for revenge against Sheffield Eagles on Sunday - to lay the ghosts of last year's nightmare defeats.’
        • ‘Perhaps incorporating the brand in staffing will lay the ghost to rest.’
        • ‘Valentukevicius, however, wants to lay the ghosts of the war to rest forever.’
        • ‘British Airways wants to lay the ghost of the victorious unofficial walkouts by check-in staff in July 2003.’
        • ‘As long as it persists, Japan will never lay the ghost of its past.’
        • ‘Can it lay the ghost of the Roman imperium and become something other than a male gerontocracy?’
        • ‘Having eaten and rested it was time once again to lay the ghosts to rest and pay respects to the many Germans who had fallen in the desert.’
        • ‘I think, accordingly, the best thing for me to do is, to sit down and lay the ghost by writing out my story.’
        • ‘Claire after winning € 20,000 on a lottery ticket heads off to Greece with her young daughter to lay the ghosts of her past to rest.’

Phrasal Verbs

    lay about
    • 1lay about someoneBritish Beat or attack someone violently.

      ‘they weren't against laying about you with sticks and stones’
      • ‘The guards laid about them, striking men and women with the flats of their swords.’
      • ‘Dancers, casting aside their cloaks, revealed themselves as lightly armored fighters who drew all manner of weapons and began laying about them with a will.’
      • ‘They laid about him with the back of their axes and overwhelmed him with stones and (thigh) bones and ox heads.’
      1. 1.1lay about oneselfStrike out wildly on all sides.
        ‘the mare laid about her with her front legs and teeth’
        • ‘Behave churlishly and rudely, treating everyone you encounter like some kind of moron and generally laying about you with a riding crop.’
        • ‘Mary alone attempted to resist by force the intrusion of these soldiers, laying about her with a parasol to fend off the men trying to get through the bedroom door.’
        • ‘I'm getting on a bit myself but I am quite willing and capable of laying about myself with a stick if need be.’
        • ‘The standard image of a barbarian is some bloodthirsty crazy shouting out incomprehensible threats and laying about him /em> with a massive axe.’
        • ‘Now Big Larry kept the crowd from annoying the couple, by properly laying about him with a switch all along the road.’
    lay aside
    • 1Put something to one side.

      ‘he laid aside his book’
      • ‘the situation gave them a good reason to lay aside their differences’
      • ‘If ethnic differences are laid aside, it is likely the issue of religious observance that will keep Afghanistan's rulers busy for some time to come.’
      • ‘By the time we lay the book aside, we have witnessed an extraordinary reversal.’
      • ‘After and only after both players have picked, they may take pairs of cards of the same rank from their hands and lay them aside to count toward their score.’
      • ‘Rraerch had laid her glass aside and was leaning toward me.’
      • ‘The mother, never idle, lays her workbox aside and throws her sewing work over the arm of her chair to listen solicitously as her daughter recites a passage from the Bible.’
      • ‘After a while you lay the polio aside and kind of forget about it.’
      • ‘Everyone thought he was kidding until, at the height of his fame, he laid his camera aside to concentrate on painting and drawing.’
      • ‘‘Coming,’ he called, laying his laptop aside; taking long strides towards the door and opening it.’
      • ‘All jokes are laid aside and the two at last reconcile themselves about the accident.’
      • ‘He lays the paper aside, and adds with a smile and a note of resignation, ‘I'm still trying to do all that.’’
      • ‘‘I see,’ the judge said, laying the scroll aside.’
      • ‘She reminds him to lay his anger aside and listen to Theseus, who wishes to allow Polyneices' request to be granted.’
      • ‘The composer was never quite satisfied with it, however, and after a tentative revision, he lay the work aside.’
      1. 1.1Reserve money for the future or for a particular cause.
        ‘he begged them to lay something aside towards the cause’
        • ‘For homeowners it means paying off the mortgage slower, or reducing their ability to lay money aside for retirement.’
        • ‘Prompt treatment is vital for the well-being of your pets, so ensure you can afford to lay money aside for contingencies such as these.’
        • ‘She has laid aside a little sum, but her long expensive illness takes her last dollar.’
    lay before
    • lay something before someonePresent information or suggestions to be considered and acted upon by someone.

      • ‘he laid before Parliament proposals for the establishment of the committee’
    lay down
    • 1lay something down, lay down somethingPut something down.

      ‘she finished her cake and laid down her fork’
      • ‘The block was built around the four sides of a concrete courtyard which he had laid down.’
      • ‘She laid down on the cot, pulling a tattered blanket over herself.’
      • ‘He walked up to her desk and laid a file down.’
      • ‘Fiber-optic cables are being laid down along the national and state highways in Kerala.’
      • ‘Garth found a patch of grass underneath a tree, laid down, and fell asleep.’
      • ‘At the edge, Linda lays the flowers down, kneeling beside the grave.’
      • ‘He laid the phone down and said, "She won't be coming back."’
      • ‘She walked to the bed and lay the platter down in front of her.’
      • ‘She sighed as she laid the last plate down.’
    • 2lay something down, lay down somethingFormulate and enforce or insist on a rule or principle.

      ‘stringent criteria have been laid down’
      • ‘School rules are not laid down so that teachers can get a kick out of enforcing them.’
      • ‘The rules are laid down for signing and loaning players and Wanderers work strictly within those rules.’
      • ‘From the start strict rules were laid down for its romantic novels, toning down passion to avoid offence.’
      • ‘I appealed to them, saying that I was more than happy to follow whatever ground rules had been laid down.’
      • ‘The king inherited a government whose rules had been laid down by his father, the former king.’
      • ‘Other federal laws enacted before the Supreme Court's new rules were laid down will undoubtedly be reviewed, and some will be found wanting.’
      • ‘Originally, under international law, war was waged between states, and rules were laid down governing its declaration and the conduct which had to be observed.’
      • ‘As laws are laid down, the principles of justice on which they were founded crystallise and one is left with the bare bones of legal rules.’
      • ‘In my view, no hard and fast rules can be laid down in respect of this issue.’
      • ‘It does seem particularly important that as quickly as possible the core legal principles are laid down.’
    • 3lay something down, lay down somethingPay or bet money.

      ‘when it comes to field sports, large sums of money are laid down’
      • ‘It's a haven in the wild west of the web; a place where you can lay your money down and be sure that you will get your cash back if the goods do not turn up.’
      • ‘I've done my bit to help Freddie to make his millions by purchasing his novels as they appeared, so why stop now I said to myself recently as I laid my money down for his latest.’
      • ‘So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out I'll never forget the look on his face when he said Mama's gonna look so great’
      • ‘The money was duly laid down, so Lucas whipped off his kit and plunged in.’
    • 4lay something down, lay down somethingBegin to construct a ship or railway.

      ‘twenty-four ships were projected, of which twenty were laid down’
      • ‘As psychoanalysis has taught us in its methodology of disinterested attention, only after all the tracks have been laid down may one begin to evaluate them.’
      • ‘The massive naval harbour that bites into Algeciras Bay was a Victorian achievement, that was only properly completed in the 1900's after which the dry docks were laid down.’
      • ‘Work proceeded forthwith, and the first three of five Holland boats were laid down on February 4, 1901.’
      • ‘Two ironclads were laid down there, but these were unfinished when the Federal fleet took the city.’
      • ‘Yet nobody complained a peep about the Bonaventure when it was laid down to access the Champlain Bridge and Expo 67.’
      • ‘Only a fraction of ships laid down were ever fully operational.’
      1. 4.1Build up a deposit of a substance.
        ‘these cells lay down new bone tissue’
        • ‘Synorogenic flysch deposits were laid down in front of the advancing allochthonous complexes, and were overridden by them.’
        • ‘We know that these limestones were laid down in a shallow shelf sea that was periodically exposed as sea levels fell worldwide owing to the build-up of ice in a former glaciation.’
        • ‘The confusion can be traced to the uniformitarian expectations that the deposits were laid down over eons of time.’
        • ‘This is a condition in which fatty deposits are laid down in the walls of arteries, which are less elastic and weaker as a result.’
        • ‘The fossil-bearing chalk deposits were laid down as ocean-floor ooze hundreds of kilometers from the waterways shores.’
        • ‘The sediments were laid down in the late Pleistocene as broad alluvial fans derived from the nearby Santa Monica Mountains.’
        • ‘The rock that makes up the landscape was laid down in the Jurassic period, between about 150 and 200 million years ago.’
        • ‘The spore wall layers are laid down in a specific order in which the mannan, glucan, chitosan, and dityrosine layers overlay outward in a step-wise manner.’
        • ‘Additional studies will determine if the rocks were laid down by minerals formed at the bottom of a salty lake or sea.’
        • ‘The rover Opportunity will seek to determine how the layers were laid down, and look for evidence of water from hot springs, which could arise out of local volcanic warming.’
    • 5lay something down, lay down somethingStore wine in a cellar.

      ‘each bottle has to be laid down for several years before it is ready to drink’
      • ‘Alternatively, wines can be laid down for just one of these occasions, as required.’
      • ‘When someone opens a bottle of my wine many years from now they will know that our wines have ageeability and can be laid down (cellared) for decades.’
      • ‘He believed the white mold actually played an important part of his winemaking process, as it coated nearly everything, from the barrels to the bottles which he laid down there for years.’
    • 6lay something down, lay down something informal Record a piece of music.

      • ‘he was invited to the studio to lay down some backing vocals’
      • ‘How do you feel it's an advantage over laying things down on tape piece by piece?’
      • ‘It was fact that we went in there and laid it down in six hours that gave the first songs such urgency and energy - just can't be captured again once you lose your innocence!’
      • ‘But the true power in this album is that she laid the tracks down live and left them that way.’
      • ‘This entire album could have been recorded in the earth's cavernous bowels, but in fact it was laid down at Bauer Studios, in Ludwigsburg.’
      • ‘Once the composition takes shape, they and any session musicians they may need are used to laying it down at high speed.’
      • ‘After years of performing and touring, the time came for him to take his experiences and lay them down in the form of a demo, but not without a certain amount of hesitation.’
      • ‘Three chords are laid down but that's where the obvious territory ends, as within seconds it's all scrunched up and tossed for yet more spiky-assed punk recklessness.’
      • ‘When I start getting inputs in my head, I have to start laying them down.’
      • ‘I can skip the searching process now and just grab a guitar, bass, keys or drums and lay it down.’
      • ‘He also sang most of the songs cold, before any instruments were laid down in the studio.’
      • ‘So after a brief run through the tapes were switched on to lay a backing track down.’
    lay in
    • lay something in, lay in somethingBuild up a stock of something in case of need.

      ‘we laid in a supply of firewood’
      • ‘By hard work and thrift he managed to lay up considerable of this world's goods and at the time of his death was in comfortable circumstances.’
      • ‘During this time his expenses had swallowed up the small amount which he had succeeded in laying up previous to his sickness.’
      • ‘Unless you have the foresight to lay up stores in advance, production will grind to a halt.’
      • ‘Manufacturers refused to lay in supplies in advance.’
    lay into
    • lay into someoneAttack someone violently with words or blows.

      • ‘three youths laid into him’
      • ‘After seeing the error of their comrades, the three armed men advanced more cautiously towards Erik, attempting to surround him first before they laid into their attack.’
      • ‘He was astounded when the journalist unexpectedly exploded into violence, laying into a passer-by larking about for the camera.’
      • ‘She laid into the companies that pitched for funds on the programme, saying she had only gone on the show to promote her business.’
      • ‘He lays into the Ulster Scots movement arguing that in over identifying with a Scottish rather than an Irish cultural idiom, they are reinforcing the otherness of Ulster Protestants.’
      • ‘They all surrounded him and started laying into him with sticks and that.’
      • ‘I hear that the papers have been laying into it, saying what a pile of rubbish it was.’
      • ‘The former boxer was driving past the station in the High Road when he came across six teenagers laying into another youngster.’
      • ‘Our concern was for the five junior members of our party and whether a lack of laid-on amusements would lead to them laying into each other.’
      • ‘He was very, very aggressive and really laying into my car.’
    lay off
    • 1lay someone off, lay off someoneDischarge a worker temporarily or permanently because of economic conditions or shortage of work.

      ‘the company has laid off 30 per cent of its staff’
      • ‘This isn't the first time (and unlikely to be the last), but a group of striking workers in Korea have been laid off by text message by their employer.’
      • ‘Nonetheless, her co-workers at the hotel told her that the next day two new workers were hired to do the same job she had been laid off from.’
      • ‘His wife, a former textile worker, took care of him and his son when he was laid off from his factory.’
      • ‘If you remain with the company, what are the chances you will be laid off?’
      • ‘The bodyguards at the headquarters in Sofia have been laid off, and 30 luxury limousines have been sold.’
      • ‘As many as 50 staff in York could be laid off in the management ranking process, as the company cuts up to 700 jobs nationally.’
      • ‘But after six months, she was laid off as business slowed down.’
      • ‘My best friend's husband got laid off, which I knew.’
      • ‘When I got laid off in January, I decided to start cooking once more.’
      • ‘If something goes wrong, if somebody gets laid off, if you have a child that gets sick, you go right off the cliff.’
    • 2also lay off something informal Give up or stop doing something.

      • ‘I laid off smoking for seven years’
      • ‘lay off—he's not going to tell you’
      • ‘In her defense, laying off the booze would mean seeing him sober…’
      • ‘Now I'm doing an Amber and trying to quit the fags - my immune system is shot and laying off the smokes should help a bit.’
      • ‘I’m also trying to lay off the dairy after a week of upset stomach.’
    • 3lay something off, lay off somethingSoccer
      Pass the ball to a teammate.

      ‘Jules laid the ball off to the striker’
      • ‘No forward likes to have someone on top of them, they just end up laying the ball off with passes.’
      • ‘He lays the ball off to Heskey, who drives a useless cross against the legs of the nearest Swedish defender.’
      • ‘They passed to each other, they ran past each other, they laid the ball off to each other.’
      • ‘The second red should have been for an elbow to the head after he'd laid the ball off.’
      • ‘The 20-year-old opened the scoring in the 27th minute when he intelligently held the ball up before laying it off for Sunderland's talismanic midfielder.’
    • 4lay something off, lay off somethingPaint the final layer on a wall or other surface.

      ‘lay off the paint with very light brush strokes’
      • ‘When you get good at this, you can quickly reverse each consecutive pass to lay the paint off in one direction.’
      • ‘When it comes to laying the paint off to ensure no brush marks are left behind I always use the following analogy when training people to paint’
      • ‘After applying by roller, laying off the paint with a brush or pad will give you an improved finish.’
    • 5lay something off, lay off something(of a bookmaker) insure against a loss resulting from a large bet by placing a similar bet with another bookmaker.

      ‘the only way the dividends could possibly make sense was if the bookmaker had laid off the bet’
      • ‘Any sensible fella would have laid the bet off by now, guaranteeing him a fair wedge.’
      • ‘Even then you had to wait whilst he phoned and laid the bet off before they accepted it.’
      • ‘This scenario will happen to you and the trick is to accept it, lay the bet off and accept a small loss and then move onto your next trade.’
    lay on
    • 1lay something on, lay on somethingBritish Provide a service or amenity.

      ‘the council provides a grant to lay on a bus’
      • ‘Replacement bus services were laid on for rail passengers unable to travel over the weekend.’
      • ‘Alternate bus routes have been laid on until normal service is resumed.’
      • ‘Tickets will be on sale during the week and a bus service will be laid on from the village to the hall and home again that night.’
      • ‘Donating the passes will cost the city a fraction of the headline figure, as no extra services will be laid on.’
      • ‘The details of exactly which services will be laid on at each school will be decided by school governors.’
      • ‘Even special train services were laid on so people could witness the spectacle.’
      • ‘A spokesman said many more trains had been laid on today and full services should run.’
      • ‘The tourists took matters a step further and agreed to delay their departure to Zimbabwe provided a charter plane could be laid on for them to fly out on Monday night.’
      • ‘Free bus rides will be laid on, with members of the public also welcome.’
      • ‘Early buses and trains were laid on for fans wanting to catch the action in town.’
    • 2lay something on someone informal Require someone to endure or deal with a responsibility or difficulty.

      • ‘this is an absurdly heavy guilt trip to lay on anyone’
      • ‘And that's one thing - when the administration tries to lay this responsibility on the military to make the decision - that's not who makes the decision to go to war.’
      • ‘He says it is not fair to lay the entire responsibility on the group, since others may have been involved.’
      • ‘She explains that American women are fortunate because our culture values the family and lays responsibilities on men so women can safely have children.’
      • ‘Hoffman lays the main responsibility on historians who, as I mentioned, are so wary of economics.’
      • ‘He repeated his promise that his department was going to take responsibility for laying criminal charges on behalf of the boys if their parents did not do so.’
      • ‘The participants felt the campaign should lay an equal emphasis on eliminating factors responsible for failure of poor rural families to impart education to their children.’
    lay out
    • 1lay something out, lay out somethingSpread something out to its full extent, especially so that it can be seen.

      ‘the police were insisting that suitcases should be opened and their contents laid out’
      • ‘her evening dress was laid out on the bed’
      • ‘If you were to uncoil a French horn and lay it out to its full length, it would be over six miles long.’
      • ‘Carefully holding them he made his way back to the couch and laid the contents out on the coffee table.’
      • ‘‘Thank you so, so much,’ I whispered, laying the dress out on the gown and hugging my aunt tightly.’
      • ‘He would lay his uniform out and dress from the toes up.’
      • ‘I lay my dress out on my bed and chose a pair of shoes before grabbing a towel and heading into the bathroom.’
      • ‘Piles of bullets, Beretta handguns and Kalashnikovs are laid out carefully next to ornamental knives and silver jewellery.’
      • ‘Since I still needed my dress the next week, I carefully laid it out on her bed and changed into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.’
      • ‘The main instruments are laid out clearly in front of the driver.’
      • ‘She pulled out the costume and looked at the emblem thoughtfully for a minute, then carefully laid it out on another chair next to her front window.’
      • ‘Lauren unfolded the letter carefully and laid it out on the small table in her room.’
    • 2lay something out, lay out somethingConstruct or arrange buildings or gardens according to a plan.

      ‘they proceeded to lay out a new town’
      • ‘The area where the houses and gardens would be laid out would be raised by about 2ft to counter the risk of flooding and changes to the drainage at the edge of the reserve.’
      • ‘These gardens were laid out in 1550 for the Medici a year after they bought the Palazzo Pitti and were opened to the public in 1766.’
      • ‘The gardens had been laid out quite formally, but there are signs of obvious neglect.’
      • ‘The buyer will have the opportunity to specify how the interior and formal gardens are laid out and will be able to put their own, personal stamp on the property.’
      • ‘The 208 apartments in the Tramyard will be laid out in eight blocks arranged in clusters around a landscaped courtyard.’
      • ‘Land in Whitton has been laid out in 28 allotment plots of varying sizes.’
      • ‘The city of Philadelphia was laid out according to Penn's plan.’
      • ‘Santa Fe was laid out as a series of blocks around a plaza, with the government buildings on its north side.’
      • ‘Kutna Hora is laid out on a higgledy-piggledy hillside plan, a response to the mine-works underneath.’
      • ‘The Flower Garden near the Orchid House is laid out with beds of flowering annual and perennials.’
      1. 2.1Arrange and present material for printing and publication.
        ‘the brochure is beautifully laid out’
        • ‘The final feed would end up in the production department, where the text would be laid out and made ready for actual printing.’
        • ‘What I liked was that the material is laid out in a reasonable fashion.’
        • ‘The lines are laid out as prose, although there are a few attempts at verse format on the early pages, and sentences run on without a break.’
        • ‘The page proofs were laid out a few weeks in advance, and the minority panel convened for the last time to review them.’
        • ‘You can read the pages exactly as they are laid out in the physical paper and download pdfs of any pages you want to keep.’
        • ‘The book is produced in A4 format on shiny paper; it is laid out in two columns and thus looks very much like what it is: an issue of a journal captured between hard covers.’
        • ‘Organized by ribs, ruffles, fringes, and other structures these details are laid out on full sized pages with large color photographs.’
        • ‘The pages are laid out in tightly-controlled squares.’
        • ‘I like the way many small articles and pictures are laid out on the page so that my eye can skip from one to another.’
      2. 2.2Explain something clearly and carefully.
        ‘we need a paper laying out our priorities’
        • ‘You have to lay it out for her, explain that her behaviour will end your relationship.’
        • ‘I liked the fact that he laid it out very clearly that we're going to be OK, but we're going to go after these guys.’
        • ‘Any scientific theory has an exemplary case where the basic ideas and methodologies are laid out clearly and convincingly.’
        • ‘The basic techniques had been laid out clearly in the agronomic handbooks of Ancient Rome.’
        • ‘Caroll's book was the first thing I'd read that seemed to lay it out clearly, and contrary to what I was expecting, he wasn't a fruitcake.’
        • ‘‘I believe that the approach to compensation as well as the specifics are laid out clearly in proxy statements and other public documents,’ he said.’
        • ‘The plans are laid out in a highly detailed 375 page document, which has been written before the organisation-wide strategic plan on which it is meant to be based.’
        • ‘A strategy meeting was convened and the plan was laid out.’
        • ‘Potential investors are periodically invited to watch the company perform 10-minute snatches of each property, and a business plan is laid out.’
        • ‘The plans will be laid out on Wednesday in a White Paper.’
    • 3lay someone out, lay out someonePrepare someone for burial after death.

      ‘they laid him out in the cabin in a big wooden box’
      • ‘It was later confirmed that Kennedy was laid out in the East Room prior to his burial in Arlington.’
      • ‘The design comes into its own in the final scene, when Lear and Cordelia are laid out together, finally united in death.’
      • ‘The walls of his log cabin-style burial chamber were draped in fabric, and he was laid out on a decorated bronze couch covered with furs and other material.’
      • ‘They laid Rhiannon out, and erased all traces of their involvement in bringing her there.’
      • ‘I think if you could actually die of boredom, Dan would be laid out on the floor in a body bag by this point.’
      • ‘A former Admiral of Cork Royal Yacht Club, he was laid out in his yacht club blazer and tie, a sailing hat placed on his remains.’
      • ‘Survivors were rushed to the nearby hospital, while more than a dozen bodies were laid out in the hospital garden with their faces covered by cardboard.’
      • ‘I'm not at all a superstitious man, but that day when his body was laid out like Jesus Christ, he did look how the Lord is depicted.’
      • ‘The front part of the house, where he had met his customers, was cleared of furniture and his body was laid out there.’
      • ‘His aunt said blood continued flow out of his nose when his body was laid out at his house before the funeral on September 2.’
      • ‘Indeed, his only remotely decent piece of acting comes when his corpse is laid out at the end of the film.’
      • ‘In a barren room lies the more or less mute and ill father; later his dead son is laid out in the same space.’
      • ‘Hours after the blaze was brought under control, dozens of bodies were laid out in a nearby parking lot, their faces covered by T-shirts.’
      • ‘Bodies of children were laid out under a grove of trees near a hospital awaiting identification.’
      • ‘The bodies were laid out in a neat row, each wrapped in a shroud of black plastic, next to the twisted wreckage of the bus.’
      • ‘You know, we were at the morgue yesterday afternoon and that was a really tough thing to do as well because hundreds of bodies have been laid out, all of them unidentified.’
    • 4lay someone out, lay out someone informal Knock someone unconscious.

      • ‘he was lucky that the punch didn't lay him out’
      • ‘If your brother knew what we did he'd lay me out with one punch.’
      • ‘The Major was laid out on the floor and a man in a white coat immediately bent over her.’
    • 5lay something out, lay out something informal Spend a sum of money.

      • ‘look at the money I had to lay out for your uniform’
      • ‘Similarly in Sligo we will never know how much money is laid out, and at the end of the day it is the ordinary ‘Joe Soap’ that goes around begging to raise money for the County Board.’
      • ‘If the latter, then we have to wonder if consumers will be willing to lay out good money to see something they've already bought fixed properly.’
      • ‘But when we come in, the cheaper it is, the better for us, because we know we're not going to have to lay out so much money.’
      • ‘We've spent hours of time, we've laid out money, and we'll be working at least some of the day rather than watching our son compete.’
      • ‘But there are doubts about whether the two men want to lay out that amount.’
    lay over
    • Break one's journey.

      ‘Steven and I will lay over in New York, then fly to London’
      • ‘August 1-2: The party runs a short distance on the river and then lays over for a day to rest and explore.’
      • ‘This is a short video showing passengers boarding a low floor trolleybus while it lays over at its city centre terminus in Basle, Switzerland.’
      • ‘On the return portion of my Turkey trip I will be laid over in Istanbul until the next morning.’
      • ‘They laid over in Dublan, Mexico for a few days, then went on to Galeana, where Maria's brother and sister lived.’
    lay up
    • 1lay someone up, lay up someonePut someone out of action through illness or injury.

      ‘he was laid up with the flu’
      • ‘The injury that laid him up for so long, and caused him to wreak revenge was self-inflicted, a result of that desperate lunge.’
      • ‘My Uncle was laid up with an arthritic problem, but from his couch or hobbling about he would carry on renovation to his house.’
      • ‘Her many friends are so sorry to hear she is laid up and we all wish her a speedy recovery.’
      • ‘Five months ago, he was laid up in a hospital bed unable to move after a freak training accident on Lake Karapiro, when he was hit by a water skier.’
      • ‘It was fairly serious, he lost a lot of blood and he was laid up for a long time.’
      • ‘At the time I was laid up with a freshly broken ankle, so it certainly took my mind off the pain.’
      • ‘I was laid up for 4 weeks following a hernia operation.’
      • ‘I read the first four back in 2000 when I was laid up with a nasty bronchial thing.’
      • ‘I was given a flu vaccination but it had an adverse reaction and meant I was laid up for a while.’
      • ‘An infection set in and Gary was laid up for another six months.’
    • 2lay something up, lay up somethingPut a ship or boat in dock or out of commission.

      ‘our boats were laid up during the winter months’
      • ‘I decided to lay the boat up there’
      • ‘By the time the boat owner contacted the state, his boat had been laid up for three months, waiting for simple repairs to be completed.’
      • ‘Buying a boat outright in Michigan means that a person bears the full cost of the six months that the boat is laid up for the winter instead of a fraction of the cost under boat sharing.’
      • ‘Formerly HMS Upholder, she was the first of the four boats launched between 1986 and 1991, but by 1994 they had been laid up, with no role to play as the Cold War was over.’
    • 3lay something up, lay up somethingBuild up a stock of something in case of need.

      • ‘I laid up a good store of bread and cheese’
    • 4lay something up, lay up somethingAssemble layers in the arrangement required for the manufacture of plywood or other laminated material.

      ‘successive plies are laid up until the desired thickness is achieved’
      • ‘Simply put, fiberglass materials and core materials are laid up without any resin.’
      • ‘But the front wing had complex curves that could cause unexpected shifts in plies as they were laid up, resulting in weak spots.’
      • ‘Board and batten patterns are laid up using standard dimension lumber.’
    • 5Golf
      Hit the ball deliberately to a lesser distance than possible, typically in order to avoid a hazard.

      ‘the conservative thing to do was lay up and settle for a five’
      • ‘In fact, I laid up on every par 5 but still made a birdie each time.’
      • ‘I debated with my caddie, Stevie, about laying up.’
      • ‘I hit my drive in the fairway, laid up with a 7-iron, then hit a wedge to the back fringe.’
      • ‘If you're naturally daring, then laying up on a par 5 can be more detrimental to your psyche - and score - than going for it.’
      • ‘And he rather sensibly played safe on the 18th by laying up short of the water and salvaging his winning par with an 88-yard wedge shot and a 12-foot putt.’
      • ‘If you are facing a difficult tee shot on a long or tough par 3, consider pulling out your most comfortable club and laying up.’


Old English lecgan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch leggen and German legen, also to lie.

Main meanings of lay in English

: lay1lay2lay3lay4


Pronunciation /leɪ/

See synonyms for lay

Translate lay into Spanish


  • 1Not ordained into or belonging to the clergy.

    ‘a lay preacher’
    • ‘Modern scholarship has done much to rescue the pastoral reputation and moral seriousness of the clergy and their lay supporters at all levels.’
    • ‘She was training to be a lay preacher, but knew that wasn't where she wanted to be, and wasn't sure where she was going.’
    • ‘During this time Bethel has been well supported by ministers from the South Wales area, some of them retired, and by lay preachers from the locality.’
    • ‘A knife to his belly had brought him to the Bowery Mission, where he continues as a lay preacher.’
    • ‘This book is intended primarily for lay study groups in Episcopal parishes and Lutheran congregations.’
    • ‘In my opinion the church needs lay advisory boards with some teeth.’
    • ‘So, baptism establishes the lay status of a believer by ordaining that person into the lay order.’
    • ‘Another characteristic of those days is that salaries for lay workers and pastors were low.’
    • ‘Look for opportunities to form teams in communicating with pastors and lay people.’
    • ‘Therefore, if a bishop chooses to close a particular parish instead of bringing in a lay minister, he is free to do so.’
    • ‘Even if we don't serve as lay ministers or volunteers, there is one thing we can do: pray!’
    • ‘In the colonies the lay vestry emerged to help with the management of church resources and property.’
    • ‘But a special effort will be required if lay preaching is to bear fruit.’
    • ‘Part of the answer, in short, is found in the array of lay ministries that are integral to most thriving parishes.’
    • ‘All of these academic settings are educating the church's future lay ministers.’
    • ‘Many of its adherents promoted the individualism and lay preaching that Edwards so deplored.’
    • ‘If only consultative, the lay voice will remain mostly window dressing for clerical decision makers.’
    • ‘It's nice to think we might stay to help reclaim the house, but how is an ordinary lay Catholic to do that?’
    • ‘And how does it bear on the roles, lay or clerical, of women in the church?’
    • ‘Eventually, the pope had the lay people boycott married priests and not attend Masses celebrated by them.’
    non-clerical, non-ordained, non-ecclesiastical, secular, temporal
    View synonyms
  • 2Not having professional qualifications or expert knowledge, especially in law or medicine.

    ‘a lay member of the Health Authority’
    • ‘Often faculty are not clinicians but other health professionals and lay community members.’
    • ‘Newspapers are an important source of information about the results of medical research, both for lay people and health professionals.’
    • ‘Like lay rules, most professional rules are tacit and informal and are never formally articulated.’
    • ‘When this bill was brought in, it had the same number of lay people and professionals.’
    • ‘For a lay person, inhaled medicines are often linked to smoking or opium inhalation and is, therefore, perceived as addictive.’
    • ‘And why are we stuck with two discrete inquiries which will not take place in public nor take evidence from lay people or racism experts?’
    • ‘They act as a filter and a translator from the expert source to the lay reader.’
    • ‘One can see the appeal of such stories for experts writing for a lay audience.’
    • ‘My experience suggests that the lay member's views on legal questions, though diffidently expressed, can also sometimes be helpful.’
    • ‘That panel will be made up of three people - a lay member and two with legal expertise.’
    • ‘The process would involve an evaluation of a doctor's fitness to practise by a local revalidation group, of which one member would be a lay person.’
    • ‘Third, the talking styles of men and women have been of interest to both lay and professional persons.’
    • ‘There are, at present, 104 members of the council, 25 of whom are lay members.’
    • ‘Some of the lay members of the council would thus like to see a council where the doctors had less power.’
    • ‘Imbalances in knowledge between lay people and professionals make it difficult for lay people to assess doctors' ability and competence.’
    • ‘These arrangements are currently being actively developed and entail consultation with lay and professional advisers.’
    • ‘This committee will consist of experts from a range of different disciplines, and half its members will be lay people.’
    • ‘The recently released handbook is intended to help even the lay public grasp the medicinal properties of herbs.’
    • ‘That what a psychiatrist or an expert might know is not to be attributed to the lay person.’
    • ‘This question is as relevant to any lay person as it is to me as an expert.’
    non-professional, amateur, non-specialist, non-technical, untrained, unqualified, inexpert
    View synonyms


Middle English from Old French lai, via late Latin from Greek laïkos, from laos ‘people’. Compare with laic.

Main meanings of lay in English

: lay1lay2lay3lay4


Pronunciation /leɪ/

See synonyms for lay

Translate lay into Spanish


  • 1A short lyric or narrative poem meant to be sung.

    ‘a minstrel recited a series of lays’
    • ‘James Macpherson based his Ossianic pieces on these lays.’
    • ‘We come to the lay's treatment of the third type: the woman, as represented by the wife.’
    • ‘In no other of Marie's lays is the roster of personages so heavily weighted toward a single gender.’
    • ‘The first of the lays appeared in Blackwood's Magazine in Apr. 1843, and the volume was published in 1849.’
    • ‘The company in the royal or noble hall provided the audience for a literature which mirrored the age: heroic lays recited by professional bards.’
    • ‘Their roster of dazzling images is annually expanded by increments, as happened with bardic lays after the fall of Troy.’
    1. 1.1 literary A song.
      • ‘on his lips there died the cheery lay’


Middle English from Old French lai, corresponding to Provençal lais, of unknown origin.

Main meanings of lay in English

: lay1lay2lay3lay4


Pronunciation /leɪ/

See synonyms for lay

Translate lay into Spanish