(1)   Not of or from a profession
"A lay opinion as to the cause of the disease"
(2)   Concerning those not members of the clergy
"Set his collar in laic rather than clerical position"
"The lay ministry"
"The choir sings both sacred and secular music"


(3)   A narrative poem of popular origin
(4)   A narrative song with a recurrent refrain


(5)   Put into a certain place or abstract location
"Put your things here"
"Set the tray down"
"Set the dogs on the scent of the missing children"
"Place emphasis on a certain point"
(6)   Put in a horizontal position
"Lay the books on the table"
"Lay the patient carefully onto the bed"
(7)   Lay eggs
"This hen doesn't lay"
(8)   Prepare or position for action or operation
"Lay a fire"
"Lay the foundation for a new health care plan"
(9)   Impose as a duty, burden, or punishment
"Lay a responsibility on someone"

Etymology 1

Old English lecgan, from Germanic. A causative form of lie. Cognate with Dutch leggen, German legen, Swedish lägga.


  1. To place something down in a position of rest.
  2. To cause to subside or abate.
  3. To leave something somewhere.
  4. To prepare (e.g., the groundwork, the table).
  5. To install certain building materials, laying one thing on top of another.
    lay brick
    lay flooring
  6. To produce and deposit an egg.
  7. To have sexual intercourse with someone, especially in a casual manner.
  8. To wager that an event will not take place.
  9. To lie.
    • 1811, Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, chapter 19
      Without shutting herself up from her family, or leaving the house in determined solitude to avoid them, or laying awake the whole night to indulge meditation, Elinor found every day afforded her leisure enough to think of Edward


  1. Arrangement or relationship; layout; eg, the lay of the land.
  2. The direction a rope is twisted.
    Worm and parcel with the lay; turn and serve the other way.
  3. A casual sexual partner.
    What was I, just another lay you can toss aside as you go on to your next conquest?
  4. A ballad or sung poem.


  1. Non-professional, not being a member of an organized institution (e.g. scientific lay person).
  2. Not belonging to the clergy.
    They seemed more lay than clerical.


  1. when pertaining to position.
    The baby lay in its crib and slept silently.