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Definition of “lay” - English Dictionary

"lay" in American English

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 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 British English

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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 Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"lay" in Business English

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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)
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“lay” in Business English

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