/lay/, v., laid, laying, n.
1. to put or place in a horizontal position or position of rest; set down: to lay a book on a desk.
2. to knock or beat down, as from an erect position; strike or throw to the ground: One punch laid him low.
3. to put or place in a particular position: The dog laid its ears back.
4. to cause to be in a particular state or condition: Their motives were laid bare.
5. to set, place, or apply (often fol. by to or on): to lay hands on a child.
6. to dispose or place in proper position or in an orderly fashion: to lay bricks.
7. to place on, along, or under a surface: to lay a pipeline.
8. to establish as a basis; set up: to lay the foundations for further negotiations.
9. to present or submit for notice or consideration: I laid my case before the commission.
10. to present, bring forward, or make, as a claim or charge.
11. to impute, attribute, or ascribe: to lay blame on the inspector.
12. to bury: They laid him in the old churchyard.
13. to bring forth and deposit (an egg or eggs).
14. to impose as a burden, duty, penalty, or the like: to lay an embargo on oil shipments.
15. to place dinner service on (a table); set.
16. to place on or over a surface, as paint; cover or spread with something else.
17. to devise or arrange, as a plan.
18. to deposit as a wager; bet: He laid $10 on the horse.
19. to set (a trap).
20. to place, set, or locate: The scene is laid in France.
21. to smooth down or make even: to lay the nap of cloth.
22. to cause to subside: laying the clouds of dust with a spray of water.
23. Slang (vulgar). to have sexual intercourse with.
24. to bring (a stick, lash, etc.) down, as on a person, in inflicting punishment.
25. to form by twisting strands together, as a rope.
26. Naut. to move or turn (a sailing vessel) into a certain position or direction.
27. to aim a cannon in a specified direction at a specified elevation.
28. to put (dogs) on a scent.
29. to lay eggs.
30. to wager or bet.
31. to apply oneself vigorously.
32. to deal or aim blows vigorously (usually fol. by on, at, about, etc.).
33. Nonstandard. lie2.
34. South Midland U.S. to plan or scheme (often fol. by out).
35. Midland and Southern U.S. (of the wind) to diminish; subside: When the wind lays, it'll rain.
36. Naut. to take up a specified position, direction, etc.: to lay aloft; to lay close to the wind.
37. get laid, Slang (vulgar). to have sexual intercourse.
38. lay aboard, Naut. (formerly, of a fighting ship) to come alongside (another fighting ship) in order to board.
39. lay about one,
a. to strike or aim blows in every direction.
b. to proceed to do; set about.
40. lay a course,
a. Naut. to sail in the desired direction without tacking.
b. to proceed according to a plan.
41. lay aside,
a. to abandon; reject.
b. to save for use at a later time; store: to lay aside some money every month.
42. lay away,
a. to reserve for later use; save.
b. to hold merchandise pending final payment or request for delivery: to lay away a winter coat.
c. to bury: They laid him away in the tomb.
43. lay back, Slang. to relax.
44. lay by,
a. to put away for future use; store; save: She had managed to lay by money for college from her earnings as a babysitter.
b. Naut. (of a sailing vessel) to come to a standstill; heave to; lay to.
c. Midland and Southern U.S. to tend (a crop) for the last time, leaving it to mature without further cultivation.
45. lay close, Naut. (of a sailing vessel) to sail close to the wind.
46. lay down,
a. to give up; yield: to lay down one's arms.
b. to assert firmly; state authoritatively: to lay down rigid rules of conduct.
c. to stock; store: to lay down wine.
d. Shipbuilding. to draw at full size (the lines of a hull), as on the floor of a mold loft; lay off; loft.
47. lay for, Informal. to wait for in order to attack or surprise; lie in wait for: The police are laying for him.
48. lay in, to store away for future use: We laid in a supply of canned goods.
49. lay into, Informal. to attack physically or verbally; assail: He laid into the opposition with fiery words.
50. lay it on, to exaggerate in one's speech or actions, esp. to engage in exaggerated flattery or reproof: She was glad to be told what a splendid person she was, but they didn't have to lay it on so much. Also, lay it on thick.
51. lay low. See low1 (defs. 44, 45).
52. lay off,
a. to dismiss (an employee), esp. temporarily because of slack business.
b. Informal. to cease or quit: He promised to lay off drinking.
c. Slang. to stop annoying or teasing: Lay off me, will you?
d. Informal. to stop work: They laid off at four and went home.
e. to put aside or take off.
f. to mark off; measure; plot.
g. Slang. to give or hand over; pass on: They laid off their old sofa on the neighborhood recreation center.
h. (of a bookmaker) to transfer all or part of (a wager) to other bookmakers in order to be protected against heavy losses.
i. to get rid of or transfer (blame, responsibility, etc.): He tried to lay off the guilt for the crime on his son.
j. Naut. to sail away from.
k. Naut. to remain stationary at a distance from.
l. Shipbuilding. See lay1 (def. 46d).
53. lay on,
a. to cover with; apply: to lay on a coat of wax.
b. to strike blows; attack violently: When the mob became unruly, the police began to lay on.
c. Naut. to sail toward.
d. Naut. to row (an oar) with a full stroke.
e. Slang. to tell, impart, or give to: Let me lay a little good advice on you.
f. Chiefly Brit. Informal. to provide as a gift, bonus, or treat; give; treat: The owners laid on a Christmas dinner for the employees.
54. lay oneself out, Informal. to try one's best; make a great effort: They laid themselves out to see that the reception would be a success.
55. lay open,
a. to cut open: to lay open an area of tissue with a scalpel.
b. to expose; reveal: Her autobiography lays open shocking facts about her childhood.
c. to expose or make vulnerable, as to blame, suspicion, or criticism: He was careful not to lay himself open to charges of partiality.
56. lay out,
a. to extend at length.
b. to spread out in order; arrange; prepare.
c. to plan; plot; design.
d. to ready (a corpse) for burial.
e. Informal. to spend or contribute (money).
f. Slang. to knock (someone) down or unconscious.
g. Slang. to scold vehemently; reprimand: Whenever I come home late from school, my mom really lays me out.
h. to make a layout of.
i. Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. to absent oneself from school or work without permission or justification; play hooky.
57. lay over,
a. to be postponed until action may be taken: The vote will have to be laid over until next week.
b. to make a stop, as during a trip: We will have to lay over in Lyons on our way to the Riviera.
58. lay siege to. See siege (def. 8).
59. lay to,
a. Naut. to check the motion of (a ship).
b. Naut. to put (a ship) in a dock or other place of safety.
c. to attack vigorously.
d. to put forth effort; apply oneself.
60. lay up,
a. to put away for future use; store up.
b. to cause to be confined to bed or kept indoors; disable.
c. Naut. to retire (a ship) from active use.
d. Naut. (of a ship) to be retired from active use.
e. to construct (a masonry structure): The masons laid the outer walls up in Flemish bond.
f. to apply (alternate layers of a material and a binder) to form a bonded material.
61. the way or position in which a thing is laid or lies: the lay of the land.
62. Slang (vulgar).
a. a partner in sexual intercourse.
b. an instance of sexual intercourse.
63. Ropemaking. the quality of a fiber rope characterized by the degree of twist, the angles formed by the strands, and the fibers in the strands.
64. Also called lay-up, spread. (in the garment industry) multiple layers of fabric upon which a pattern or guide is placed for production-line cutting.
65. batten3 (defs. 1, 2).
66. a share of the profits or the catch of a whaling or fishing voyage, distributed to officers and crew.
[bef. 900; ME layen, leggen, OE lecgan (causative of licgan to LIE2); c. D leggen, G legen, ON legja, Goth lagjan]
Syn. 1. deposit. See put. 21, 22. calm, still, quiet.
Usage. LAY1 and LIE2 are often confused. LAY is most commonly a transitive verb and takes an object. Its forms are regular. If "place" or "put" can be substituted in a sentence, a form of LAY is called for: Lay the folders on the desk. The mason is laying brick. She laid the baby in the crib. LAY also has many intransitive senses, among them "to lay eggs" (The hens have stopped laying), and it forms many phrasal verbs, such as LAY OFF "to dismiss (from employment)" or "to stop annoying or teasing" and LAY OVER "to make a stop."
LIE, with the overall senses "to be in a horizontal position, recline" and "to rest, remain, be situated, etc.," is intransitive and takes no object. Its forms are irregular; its past tense form is identical with the present tense or infinitive form of LAY: Lie down, children. Abandoned cars were lying along the road. The dog lay in the shade and watched the kittens play. The folders have lain on the desk since yesterday.
In all but the most careful, formal speech, forms of LAY are commonly heard in senses normally associated with LIE. In edited written English such uses of LAY are rare and are usually considered nonstandard: Lay down, children. The dog laid in the shade. Abandoned cars were laying along the road. The folders have laid on the desk since yesterday.
/lay/, v.
pt. of lie2.
/lay/, adj.
1. belonging to, pertaining to, or performed by the people or laity, as distinguished from the clergy: a lay sermon.
2. not belonging to, connected with, or proceeding from a profession, esp. the law or medicine.
[1300-50; ME < MF lai < ML laicus LAIC]
/lay/, n.
1. a short narrative or other poem, esp. one to be sung.
2. a song.
[1200-50; ME lai < OF, perh. < Celtic; cf. OIr láed, laíd metrical composition, poem, lay]
/lay/, n.
1. (on a loom) a movable frame that contains the shuttles, the race plate, and the reed, and that by its oscillating motion beats the filling yarn into place.
2. any movable part of a loom.
[1780-90; var. of LATHE]

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also spelled  lai 

      in medieval French literature, a short romance, usually written in octosyllabic verse, that dealt with subjects thought to be of Celtic origin. The earliest lay narratives were written in the 12th century by Marie De France; her works were largely based on earlier Breton versions thought to have been derived from Celtic legend. The Breton lay, a 14th-century English poetic form based on these lays, is exemplified by “The Franklin's Tale” in Geoffrey Chaucer (Chaucer, Geoffrey)'s The Canterbury Tales.

      The term lay may refer to a medieval lyric poem. The earliest extant examples are those composed by Gautier de Dargies in the 13th century. These lays had nonuniform stanzas of about 6 to 16 or more lines of 4 to 8 syllables. One or two rhymes were maintained throughout each stanza.

      A lay may be a song, a melody, a simple narrative poem, or a ballad, such as those written in the early 19th century by Sir Walter Scott (Scott, Sir Walter, 1st Baronet) and Thomas Macaulay (Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron).

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