lay Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo
Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

Meaning of “lay” in the English Dictionary

"lay" in British English

See all translations


uk   /leɪ/  us   /leɪ/ (laid)
  • lay verb (PUT DOWN)

C1 [T usually + adv/prep] to put something in ​especially a ​flat or ​horizontalposition, usually ​carefully or for a ​particularpurpose: She laid the ​baby on the ​bed. He laid the ​tray down on the ​table. She laid aside her ​book and went to ​answer the ​phone. We're having a new ​carpet laid in the ​hall next ​week. The ​plan is to lay (= ​build) the ​foundations for the new ​apartments in ​October.
[T] to ​prepare a ​plan or a ​method of doing something: Even the best laid ​plans go ​wrong sometimes.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • lay verb (HAVE SEX)

[T] slang to have ​sex with someone: So did you get laid (= ​find someone to have ​sex with)?
  • lay verb (RISK MONEY)

[T] to ​risk something, usually ​money, on the ​result of an ​event: She won't get the ​job - I'd lay ​money on it!
  • lay verb (EXPRESS)

[T] to ​express a ​claim, ​legalstatement, etc. in a ​serious or ​official way: She can't ​accept she made a ​mistake and now she's ​trying to lay the ​blame on (= ​accuse) her ​assistant. Do you ​understand the ​seriousness of the charge (= ​legalaccusation) that has been laid against you?
lay claim to sth
to say that you own something: Two ​companies have laid ​claim to the ​design.

layadjective [before noun]

uk   /leɪ/  us   /leɪ/

laynoun [C]

uk   /leɪ/  us   /leɪ/ slang
used to ​describe how good someone is at ​sex, or how often they have ​sex: She's a good lay (= ​sex with her is ​enjoyable). She got a ​reputation as an easy lay (= she was ​thought to have ​slept with a lot of ​people).
(Definition of lay from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"lay" in American English

See all translations


 us   /leɪ/ (past tense and past participle laid  /leɪd/ )
  • lay verb (PUT DOWN)

[T] to put something down, esp. into a ​flat or ​horizontalposition: He laid his ​coat on a ​chair. She laid the ​baby (down) in her ​crib.
[T] To lay is also to put down in a ​careful or ​systematic way for a ​particularpurpose: We’re having a new ​carpet laid in the ​hall next ​week.
  • lay verb (PREPARE)

[T] to ​prepare something: The ​initialnegotiations laid the ​groundwork for more ​detailedtalkslater on.
  • lay verb (PRODUCE EGGS)

[I/T] (of an ​animal or ​bird) to ​produceeggs from out of ​itsbody
  • lay verb (RISK)

[T] to ​risk something on the ​result of an ​event: I’ll lay ​odds (= ​riskmoney) that she won’t show up.
  • lay verb (EXPRESS)

[T] to put or ​express: He laid ​emphasis on the ​fact that he had never been ​foundguilty of a ​crime. She’s ​trying to lay the ​blame on someone ​else (= ​blame someone ​else).

layadjective [not gradable]

 us   /leɪ/
not ​trained in or not having a ​detailedknowledge of a ​particularsubject: To a lay ​audience, the ​mathematics would be ​difficult.


 us   /leɪ/
  • lay (LIE)

past simple oflie
(Definition of lay from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"lay" in Business English

See all translations

layverb [T]

uk   us   /leɪ/ (laid, laid)
to put something onto a surface or under the ​ground in a ​horizontalposition: lay a pipe/cable Workmen were digging up the street to lay ​cables. They prepared the ​ground, then laid concrete.
to prepare for doing something or to make it possible for something to ​happen in the future: lay the basis/foundation/groundwork for sth Perhaps more than anyone, he laid the ​groundwork for today's ​digitalrevolution.
to bet (= ​risk) something on the ​result of an ​event: lay odds/a wager I'll lay ​odds that she won't take the ​job.
lay blame (on sb/sth)
to say that someone or something is ​responsible for something ​bad that ​happened: You can't lay blame on the ​government for all your troubles. When ​projects go wrong, everyone looks for somewhere to lay the blame.
lay claim to sth
to say that you own something or have a ​right to it: Through a ​series of ​buyouts, we laid ​claim to the best ​intellectualproperty of our ​time.
lay an egg
informal US to make something that does not ​work well or that ​fails: They laid an egg by putting last decade's ​technology in that ​phone.

layadjective [before noun]

uk   us   /leɪ/
not ​expert in or not having a detailed ​knowledge of a particular ​subject: lay person/audience/reader Gadget ​reviewswork best when they use less ​technicaljargon for the lay ​audience.
See also
(Definition of lay from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of lay?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

“lay” in Business English

There, their and they’re – which one should you use?
There, their and they’re – which one should you use?
by ,
April 27, 2016
by Liz Walter If you are a learner of English and you are confused about the words there, their and they’re, let me reassure you: many, many people with English as their first language share your problem! You only have to take a look at the ‘comments’ sections on the website of, for example, a popular

Read More 

Word of the Day


a very large ball of burning gas in space that is usually seen from the earth as a point of light in the sky at night

Word of the Day

trigger warning noun
trigger warning noun
May 02, 2016
a warning that a subject may trigger unpleasant emotions or memories This is not, I should stress, an argument that trigger warnings should become commonplace on campus.

Read More