Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “pay”

pay

verb  /peɪ/ (past tense and past participle paid  /peɪd/) us  

pay verb (GIVE MONEY FOR)

[I/T] to give money to someone for goods or services: [T] We paid a lot of money for that table. [I] Would you prefer to pay by credit card? [I] fig. We all eventually pay for our mistakes (= suffer or are punished because of our mistakes). [I/T] To pay is also to give someone or something money for an amount you owe: [T] We’ve got to pay the rent. [T] We have so many bills to pay.

pay verb (GIVE EARNINGS)

[I/T] to give money to someone that the person has earned for work done: [T] We pay our salespeople a salary plus a bonus based on their sales. [I] Construction jobs generally pay well.

pay verb (PROFIT)

[I] to give a profit, advantage, or benefit: [+ to infinitive] It never pays to take risks where human safety is concerned. The moral is, "Crime doesn’t pay."

pay verb (PROVIDE)

[T] to provide or do something: Please pay attention. It’s always nice to be paid a compliment.
pay
noun [U]  /peɪ/ us  
I asked the boss for a raise in pay.
payable
adjective [not gradable]  /ˈpeɪ·ə·bəl/ us  
Please make your check payable to Broadway Antiques.
(Definition of pay from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of pay?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “pay” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

pint

a measure for liquid equal to about half a litre

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More