1 /leI/ verb the past tense of lie 1 2 verb past tense and past participle laid
1 PUT SB/STH DOWN (transitive always + adv/prep) to put someone or something down carefully into a flat position: lay sth in/on/under etc: Laying my coat carefully on the bed, I crept towards the door. | The bodies were laid under the trees to await burial. | Sharon laid her hand on my arm.
2 lay bricks/carpet/concrete/cables etc to put or fix bricks, a carpet etc in the correct place, especially on the ground or floor: The man's coming to lay the carpet on Saturday. | laying an oil pipeline across the desert
3 EGGS (I, T) if a bird, insect etc lays eggs, it produces them from its body: The flies lay their eggs on decaying meat.
4 RISK MONEY (T) to risk an amount of money on the result of a race, sports game etc; bet 2 (1): lay -5/$10 etc on: She laid -5 on the favourite, Golden Boy.
5 lay the blame on to blame someone for something that has happened: Then both sides start trying to lay the blame on each other!
6 lay a charge/proposal etc formal to make a statement, suggestion etc in an official or public way: Your employer has laid a serious charge against you. | Several proposals have been laid before the committee.
7 lay sth open/bare to remove what covers, hides, or shelters something
8 lay sth waste to destroy or damage everything in a place, especially in a war
9 lay stress/emphasis on to emphasize something because you regard it as very important: a political philosophy that lays great stress on individual responsibility
10 lay plans/a trap etc to carefully prepare something, especially something that will harm someone else
11 lay the table to put the cloth, plates, knives, forks etc on a table, ready for a meal
12 HAVE SEX (T) slang to have sex with someone: get laid (=find someone to have sex with)
13 lay sb/sth flat to hit someone or something and knock them down: Laid him flat with a single punch!
14 lay yourself open to blame/criticism/ridicule etc to do something that makes it possible that you will be blamed, criticized etc: I don't want to lay myself open to charges of nepotism.
15 lay sth on the line
a) to state something, especially a threat, demand, or criticism, in a very clear way
b) to risk losing your life, your job etc, especially in order to help someone
16 lay sb low
a) (usually passive) if an illness lays someone low, they are unable to do their normal activities for a period of time: She's been laid low with flu for a week.
b) literary to knock someone down or injure them seriously
17 lay the ghost (of) to finally get rid of something from your past that has been worrying you
-see also: lay your hands on hand 1 (30), lay/provide the foundation(s) for foundation (5), not lay a finger on finger 1 (5), put/lay your cards on the table card 1 (12) lay about sb phrasal verb (T) literary or old-fashioned to attack someone violently: He laid about his attackers with his stick. lay sth aside phrasal verb (T)
1 to store something to use in the future: She'd managed to lay aside a few pounds each week from her wages.
2 to stop using, doing, or preparing something, for a short time: The building plans may have to be laid aside till things improve.
lay sth down phrasal verb (T)
1 TOOLS/WEAPONS to put down your tools, weapons etc as a sign that you will stop using them: Lay down your weapons and walk slowly towards the door!
2 OFFICIALLY STATE (usually passive) to officially state rules that must be obeyed, systems that must be used etc or state something officially or firmly: The regulations lay down a rigid procedure for checking safety equipment. | lay down that: It is laid down in the regulations that all members must carry their membership cards at all times.
3 lay down your life formal to lose your life, for example in a war, in order to help other people: prepared to lay down his life for his comrades
4 lay down the law to tell other people what to do, how they should think etc, in an unpleasant or rude way
5 START to start building or making something by doing the first part of the work: Crick and Watson laid down the foundations of modern genetic research.
6 WINE ETC to store something, especially wine, to use in the future
lay sth in phrasal verb (T) to obtain and store a large supply of something to use in the future lay into sb phrasal verb (T) to attack someone physically or with words: You should have heard her laying into Tommy! lay off phrasal verb
1 (transitive lay someone off) to stop employing a worker, especially for a period in which there is not much work to do: Harry was laid off for six months during the recession.
2 (intransitive, transitive lay off something) informal to stop doing, having, or using something: I think you'd better lay off alcohol for a while. | lay off doing sth: Just lay off hassling me, would you!
lay on phrasal verb (T)
1 (lay something on) to provide food, entertainment etc in a very generous way: The organizers have laid on a huge meal for us. | It's great! - transportation, hotel, food, it's all laid on.
2 (lay something on someone) to give someone something such as a responsibility or problem that is hard to deal with: Sorry to lay this on you, but we need someone to go to Italy next week.
3 lay it on (a bit thick) informal
a) to praise or admire someone or something too much, especially in order to please someone
b) to state or describe something in a way that goes beyond the truth; exaggerate
lay sb/sth out phrasal verb (T)
1 SPREAD to spread something out: Lay out the map on the table and let's have a look.
2 ARRANGE to arrange or plan a building, town, garden etc: The garden is laid out in a formal pattern.
3 SPEND informal to spend money, especially a lot of money: lay out sth on: We've just laid out -500 on car repairs.
-see also: outlay
4 HIT to knock someone down, especially hard enough to make them unconscious: One of the guards had been laid out and the other was missing.
5 BODY to prepare a dead body so that it can be buried
lay over phrasal verb (I) AmE to stay somewhere for a short time before continuing your journey lay to phrasal verb (intransitive, transitive lay something to) technical if a ship lays to or if you lay it to, it stops moving lay sb/sth up phrasal verb (T)
1 be laid up (with) to have to stay in bed because you are ill or injured: laid up for a week with flu.
2 lay up problems/difficulties etc to do something that will cause problems in the future: I tell you, she's just laying up trouble for herself, she really is.
3 old-fashioned to collect and store something to use in the future: laying up firewood for the winter
USAGE NOTE: LAY GRAMMAR You lay (T) something somewhere, but you lie (I) somewhere: He laid his things on the bed but He lay on the bed (NOT lied). In spoken British English you will also sometimes hear things like: I want to lay down (instead of I want to lie down) but some people consider this to be incorrect. A third verb lie (I) (lying, lied, lied) means 'to tell a lie'. Lied should not be confused with lived: She lied when she said she lived in Beverley Hills. 3 noun (C)
1 the lay of the land especially AmE
a) the situation that exists at a particular time: I'll go in and get the lay of the land - see if Pam's in a better mood.
b) the appearance of an area of land, the way it slopes etc
2 be a great/good lay slang to be good to have sex with
3 literary a poem or song
4 adjective (only before noun)
a) not trained or knowing much about a particular profession or subject: To the lay observer, these technical terms are incomprehensible.
b) not in an official position in the church: a lay preacher

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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