AskDefine | Define lay

Dictionary Definition

lay adj
1 concerning those not members of the clergy; "set his collar in laic rather than clerical position"; "the lay ministry"; "the choir sings both sacred and secular music" [syn: laic, secular]
2 not of or from a profession; "a lay opinion as to the cause of the disease"


1 a narrative song with a recurrent refrain [syn: ballad]
2 a narrative poem of popular origin [syn: ballad]


1 put into a certain place or abstract location; "Put your things here"; "Set the tray down"; "Set the dogs on the scent of the missing children"; "Place emphasis on a certain point" [syn: put, set, place, pose, position]
2 put in a horizontal position; "lay the books on the table"; "lay the patient carefully onto the bed" [syn: put down, repose]
3 prepare or position for action or operation; "lay a fire"; "lay the foundation for a new health care plan"
4 lay eggs; "This hen doesn't lay"
5 impose as a duty, burden, or punishment; "lay a responsibility on someone" [also: laid]lie


1 a statement that deviates from or perverts the truth [syn: prevarication]
2 Norwegian diplomat who was the first Secretary General of the United Nations (1896-1968) [syn: Trygve Lie, Trygve Halvden Lie]
3 position or manner in which something is situated


1 be located or situated somewhere; occupy a certain position
2 be lying, be prostrate; be in a horizontal position; "The sick man lay in bed all day"; "the books are lying on the shelf" [ant: stand, sit]
3 originate (in); "The problems dwell in the social injustices in this country" [syn: dwell, consist, belong, lie in]
4 be and remain in a particular state or condition; "lie dormant"
5 tell an untruth; pretend with intent to deceive; "Don't lie to your parents"; "She lied when she told me she was only 29"
6 have a place in relation to something else; "The fate of Bosnia lies in the hands of the West"; "The responsibility rests with the Allies" [syn: rest]
7 assume a reclining position; "lie down on the bed until you feel better" [syn: lie down] [ant: arise] [also: lying, lay, lain]lay See lie [also: laid]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • , /leɪ/, /leI/
  • Homophones: lei, ley
  • Rhymes: -eɪ

Etymology 1

Old English lecgan, from Germanic. A causative form of lie. Cognate with Dutch leggen, German legen, Swedish lägga.


  1. To place something down in a position of rest.
  2. In the context of "transitive|archaic": To cause to subside or abate.
  3. To leave something somewhere.
  4. To prepare (e.g., the groundwork, the table).
  5. To install certain building materials, laying one thing on top of another (e.g. lay brick, lay flooring.)
  6. To produce and deposit (an egg).
  7. To have sexual intercourse with someone, especially in a casual manner.
  8. To wager that an event will not take place (the opposite of to back).
  9. In the context of "intransitive|non-standard|or|colloquial": To lie.
Derived terms
to place something down in a position of rest
to prepare
  • Italian: disporre
  • Slovene: položiti
  • Spanish: poner
to install certain building materials
  • Italian: posare
  • Slovene: položiti
  • Spanish: poner
to give birth to eggs
  • Finnish: munia
  • French: pondre
  • Italian: deporre
  • Lojban: se jbena, seljbe
  • Spanish: poner

Etymology 2

From the verb.


  1. Arrangement or relationship; layout; eg, the lay of the land.
  2. The direction a rope is twisted.
    Worm and parcel with the lay; turn and serve the other way.
  3. A casual sexual partner.
  4. A ballad or sung poem.
arrangement or relationship

Etymology 3

From Old French lai (French laïque).


  1. Non-professional, not being a member of an organized institution (e.g. scientific lay person).
  2. Not belonging to the clergy.
    They seemed more lay than clerical.
Related terms
  • Czech: laický
  • Dutch: leken-
  • Finnish: maallikko
  • German: Laien-
  • Italian: profano, profana

Etymology 4

See lie


  1. when meaning "to put oneself horizontally".

Derived terms

Derived terms



Common Malayo-Polynesian, compare Indonesian layar



Extensive Definition

Lay may refer to:
  • Lay person, any person who is not a member of the clergy.
  • Lai, a 13th- or 14th-century northern European song.
  • Kenneth Lay (1942–2006), U.S. businessman, former CEO of Enron.
  • Benjamin Lay (1681-1760), English Quaker and Abolitionist.
  • Lay's, a potato chip brand name and company.
  • Lay, Loire, a French commune in the Loire department.
  • Lay, the release of an egg of an animal.
lay in German: Lay
lay in Esperanto: LAY
lay in French: Lay
lay in Italian: LAY
lay in Dutch: Lay

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Brautlied, Christmas carol, Kunstlied, Liebeslied, Volkslied, abate, accredit, address, advance, aim, air, alba, align, allay, allege, alleviate, anesthetize, ante, ante up, anthem, appease, aria, art song, aspect, assign, assuage, attemper, attitude, attribute, aubade, azimuth, back, ball, ballad, ballade, ballata, bank the fire, barcarole, be intimate, bearing, bearings, bent, benumb, bet, bet on, blues, blues song, blunt, board, boat song, boom, bridal hymn, brindisi, burden with, call, calm, calypso, canso, canticle, canto, cantus, canzone, canzonet, canzonetta, carol, cast, cast loose, cast out devils, cavatina, celestial navigation, chanson, chant, chantey, charge, chasten, cite, civil, clap on ratlines, clear hawse, cohabit, come together, commit adultery, conciliate, congregational, constrain, control, cool, copulate, couple, course, cover, crawl, credit, croon, croon song, current, cushion, cut loose, dab, damp, dampen, de-emphasize, dead reckoning, deaden, deaden the pain, defuse, demand, deposit, descant, diapason, diddle, diminish, direction, direction line, dirge, ditty, downplay, drag, dress, drift, drinking song, drop, dub, dulcify, dull, ease, ease matters, enjoin, epithalamium, equalize, establish, even, exact, exorcise, exposure, extenuate, fade, fasten upon, fell, fix, flatten, flush, folk song, foment, fornicate, freight with, frig, frontage, gamble, game, give relief, grade, grease, grovel, harrow, haul, haul down, have sex, have sexual relations, hazard, heading, heave, heave apeak, heave round, heave short, helmsmanship, hymeneal, hymn, impose, impose on, impose upon, impute, inclination, incline, inflict on, inflict upon, kedge, keep within bounds, laic, laical, lay a wager, lay aloft, lay down, lay flat, lay ghosts, lay level, lay low, lay on, lay out, lay the dust, lenify, lessen, level, levy, lie, lie down, lie flat, lie limply, lie prone, lie prostrate, lie with, lied, lighten, lilt, line, line of direction, line of march, line of position, lodge, log, loll, lounge, love song, love-lilt, lubricate, lull, make a bet, make it with, make love, make out, mate, matin, measure, meet a bet, melodia, melodic line, melody, minstrel song, minstrelsy, mitigate, moderate, modulate, mollify, mount, mow, national anthem, navigation, nonclerical, nonecclesiastical, nonministerial, nonordained, nonpastoral, nonreligious, note, numb, obtund, offer, oil, orientation, pacify, pad, palliate, park, parlay, pass, pilotage, piloting, placate, place, plane, planish, plaster, play, play against, play down, plunge, point, pose, posit, position, position line, post, poultice, pour balm into, pour balm on, pour oil on, present, propitiate, prothalamium, punt, put, put down, put on, put upon, quarter, radio bearing, range, rase, ratline down, raze, recline, reduce, reduce the temperature, refer, refrain, relieve, repose, reposit, rest, restrain, roll, roll flat, run, saddle with, salve, screw, seat, secular, secularist, secularistic, see, serena, serenade, serenata, serve, service, set, set down, settle, shave, slacken, slake, sleep with, slow down, smooth, smooth down, smooth out, smooth over, smoothen, smother, sober, sober down, soften, solo, solo part, song, soothe, soprano part, spar down, spawn, sprawl, spread, stake, stand pat, station, steamroll, steamroller, steerage, steering, stick, stifle, strain, stream the log, stupe, subdue, subject to, submit, suppress, tame, task, tax, temper, temporal, tendency, tenor, theme song, tone down, torch song, track, train, tranquilize, traverse a yard, treble, trend, tune, tune down, turn, underplay, unlash, unsacred, unspell, wager, war song, warble, warp, way, weaken, wedding song, weight down with, yoke with
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