pay Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo
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Meaning of “pay” in the English Dictionary

"pay" in British English

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payverb

uk   /peɪ/  us   /peɪ/ (paid, paid)
  • pay verb (BUY)

A1 [I or T] to give money to someone for something you want to buy or for services provided: How much did you pay for the tickets? I pay my taxes. [+ two objects] I'll pay you the fiver back tomorrow. I paid the driver (in/with) cash. Would you prefer to pay with/by cash, cheque, or credit card? [+ obj + to infinitive ] I think we'll need to pay a builder to take this wall down. Did Linda pay you for looking after her cats while she was away? I paid (out) a lot of money to get the washing machine fixed and it still doesn't work!
pay for itself
If something pays for itself, it works so well that it saves the same amount of money that it cost: The advertising should pay for itself.

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  • pay verb (WORK)

B1 [I or T] to give money to someone for work that they have done: The company pays its interns $4,000 a month. We pay €200 a day for this kind of work. Accountancy may be boring but at least it pays well. Most of these women are very poorly paid and work in terrible conditions.

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  • pay verb (GIVE)

C2 [T] to give or do something: The commander paid tribute to the courage of his troops. It's always nice to be paid a compliment. A crowd of mourners gathered to pay their respects to the dead man.
pay attention (to sth)
B1 to watch, listen to, or think about something carefully: You weren't paying attention to what I was saying.
pay (sb/sth) a call/visit
B2 to visit a person or place, usually for a short time: I'll pay you a call when I'm in the area. We thought we'd pay a visit to the museum while we were in Lisbon. If you leave your address, I'll pay a call on you when I'm in the area.

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paynoun [U]

uk   /peɪ/  us   /peɪ/
B1 the money you receive for doing a job: It's a nice job but the pay is appalling.
be in the pay of sb
to work for someone, especially secretly

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(Definition of pay from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"pay" in American English

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payverb

 us   /peɪ/ (past tense and past participle paid  /peɪd/ )
  • 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]  us   /peɪ/
I asked the boss for a raise in pay.
payable
adjective [not gradable]  us   /ˈpeɪ·ə·bəl/
Please make your check payable to Broadway Antiques.
(Definition of pay from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"pay" in Business English

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payverb

uk   us   /peɪ/ (paid, paid)
[I or T] to give money to someone for a product or service: pay for sth Who paid for the meal?pay sb to do sth We'll need to pay a builder to take this wall down.pay sb for sth How much did they pay you for the computer?pay sb for doing sth Did the company pay you for doing the quote?pay in/with sth They paid for the car in cash.pay to do sth I paid a lot of money to get the washing machine fixed and it still doesn't work!pay a deposit You will need to pay a small deposit if you want us to keep the radio for you. pay by cash/cheque/credit card
pay for itself
if something pays for itself, it works so well that it saves the same amount of money that it cost: The renewable energy system will have paid for itself within ten years.
[I or T] to give money to someone for work that they have done: He hates his job, but at least it pays well. Most of these women are very poorly paid and work in terrible conditions.pay $20/€50/£5, etc. for sth They pay $30 an hour for editing work. I don't get paid until the end of the month.
[T] to give someone money that you owe them: pay bills/rent I haven't got enough money to pay the rent this month.pay a debt/fine He was ordered by the court to pay a $100,000 fine. Will I have to pay income tax on any monies I receive?pay sb sth We haven't yet paid the contractor what we owe him for the work.
[I] COMMERCE if a business pays, it produces a profit: make sth pay The cinema will be closed down at the end of October, as it has failed to attract enough patrons to make it pay.
[I] to give an advantage to someone or something: pay to do sth When it comes to your retirement, it doesn't pay to take too many risks.
[T] FINANCE if a bank account or an investment pays a particular amount of money or interest, the person who owns it will receive that amount of money or interest: The account will pay 4% gross on credit balances.pay interest/a return The bank will pay interest if your account is in credit.
pay dividends
if something you do pays dividends, it has good results at a time in the future: The company found that the extra training really did pay dividends.
pay its way
if a business pays its way, it makes at least the same amount of money as it costs to operate: When Swan Lake reached the West End, there had to be eight performances a week for the production to pay its way.
pay over the odds (for sth) UK informal
to pay more for something than it is really worth: Small businesses have always paid over the odds for office supplies.
pay the price
to experience the bad result of something you have done or that someone else has done: It is inexcusable for students to be paying the price for backroom deals in the student loan industry.
pay through the nose (for sth) informal
to pay too much money for something: There's no point in getting a bargain flight only to pay through the nose for car hire.
pay top dollar (for sth) US
to pay a lot of money for something: Many wealthy businessmen are prepared to pay top dollar for an exclusive property in this area.
pay your way
to pay for yourself rather than allowing someone else to pay: I got a part-time job to help pay my way through university.

paynoun [U]

uk   us   /peɪ/
the money you receive for doing a job: There has been a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions. Workers threatened to strike over the low pay of the support staff. They agreed to give six months off work with full pay for staff whose jobs are to be outsourced. The current starting pay is about $500 a week.a pay award/deal/settlement Councils will have to fund the teachers' pay award from within their own resources.a pay cut Employees have a choice between taking a pay cut or working more.a pay hike/increase Pilots have received annual pay increases of only 1.5% since the ruling. hourly/monthly/weekly pay overtime/retirement pay holiday/vacation pay redundancy/severance pay executive pay
be in the pay of sb
to work for someone, especially secretly: Doctors in the pay of drug companies were accused yesterday of exaggerating the benefits of antidepressant drugs for children.
(Definition of pay from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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“pay” in Business English

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