lay low

Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

lay 1

v. laid (lād), lay·ing, lays
1. To cause to lie down: lay a child in its crib.
a. To place in or bring to a particular position: lay the cloth over the painting.
b. To bury.
3. To cause to be in a particular condition: The remark laid him open to criticism.
4. To put or set down: lay new railroad track.
5. To produce and deposit: lay eggs.
6. To cause to subside; calm or allay: "chas'd the clouds ... and laid the winds" (John Milton).
7. To put up to or against something: lay an ear to the door.
8. To put forward as a reproach or an accusation: They laid the blame on us.
9. To put or set in order or readiness for use: lay the table for lunch.
10. To devise; contrive: lay plans.
11. To spread over a surface: lay paint on a canvas.
12. To place or give (importance): lay stress on clarity of expression.
13. To impose as a burden or punishment: lay a penalty upon the offender.
14. To present for examination: lay a case before a committee.
15. To put forward as a demand or an assertion: laid claim to the estate.
16. Games To place (a bet); wager.
17. To aim (a gun or cannon).
a. To place together (strands) to be twisted into rope.
b. To make in this manner: lay up cable.
19. Vulgar Slang To have sexual intercourse with.
1. To produce and deposit eggs.
2. To bet; wager.
3. Nonstandard To lie.
4. Nautical To put oneself into the position indicated.
a. The direction the strands of a rope or cable are twisted in: a left lay.
b. The amount of such twist.
2. The state of one that lays eggs: a hen coming into lay.
3. Vulgar Slang
a. Sexual intercourse.
b. A partner in sexual intercourse.
Phrasal Verbs:
lay about
To strike blows on all sides.
lay aside
1. To give up; abandon: lay aside all hope of rescue.
2. To save for the future: laid aside money for a vacation.
lay away
1. To reserve for the future; save.
2. To put aside and hold for future delivery.
lay by
1. To save for future use.
2. Nautical To remain stationary while heading into the wind.
lay down
1. To give up and surrender: laid down their arms.
2. To specify: laid down the rules.
3. To store for the future.
4. Nonstandard To lie down.
lay for
To be waiting to attack: Muggers were laying for the unsuspecting pedestrian in the alley.
lay in
To store for future use: lay in supplies for an Arctic winter.
lay into Informal
1. To scold sharply.
2. To attack physically; beat up.
lay off
1. To terminate the employment of (a worker).
2. To mark off: lay off an area for a garden.
3. Slang To stop doing something; quit.
4. Games To place all or a part of (an accepted bet) with another bookie in order to reduce the risk.
lay on
1. To apply (something) by or as if by spreading onto a flat surface: laid on a thick Southern accent.
2. To prepare, usually in an elaborate fashion; arrange: laid on cocktails for 50 at the last minute.
3. To present or reveal to; confront with: "went around talking to people about anything until he could lay his standard question on them" (John Vinocur).
lay out
1. To arrange according to a plan: laid out the seating of the guests.
2. To clothe and prepare (a corpse) for burial.
3. To rebuke harshly: She laid me out for breaking the vase.
4. To knock to the ground or unconscious: laid out his opponent with a left hook.
5. To expend; spend: lay out a fortune on jewelry.
6. To display: lay out merchandise; lay the merchandise out.
lay over
To make a stopover in the course of a journey.
lay to Nautical
1. To bring (a ship) to a stop in open water.
2. To remain stationary while heading into the wind.
lay up
1. To stock for future use: lay up supplies for a long journey.
2. Informal To confine with an illness or injury: was laid up for a month.
3. Nautical To put (a ship) in dock, as for repairs.
4. Sports To hit a golf shot less far than one is able so as to avoid a hazard.
lay down the law
To issue orders or instructions sharply or imperiously.
lay it on thick Informal
To exaggerate or overstate something.
lay low
1. To keep oneself or one's plans hidden.
2. To bide one's time but remain ready for action.
3. To cause to be dead or unable to get up from a lying position: How many soldiers were laid low in that battle? The flu has laid low thousands.
lay of the land
The nature, arrangement, or disposition of something.
lay rubber Slang
To accelerate a motor vehicle suddenly from a stop so that the wheels spin rapidly.
lay waste
To ravage: Rebel troops laid waste the town.

[Middle English leien, from Old English lecgan; see legh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: Lay ("to put, place, or prepare") and lie ("to recline or be situated") have been confused for centuries; evidence exists that lay has been used to mean "lie" since the 1300s. Why? First, there are two lays. One is the base form of the verb lay, and the other is the past tense of lie. Second, lay was once used with a reflexive pronoun to mean "lie" and survives in the familiar line from the child's prayer Now I lay me down to sleep; lay me down is easily shortened to lay down. Third, lay down, as in She lay down on the sofa sounds the same as laid down, as in I laid down the law to the kids. · By traditional usage prescription, these words should be kept distinct according to the following rules. Lay is a transitive verb and takes a direct object. Lay and its principal parts (laid, laying) are correctly used in the following examples: He laid (not lay) the newspaper on the table. The table was laid for four. Lie is an intransitive verb and cannot take an object. Lie and its principal parts (lay, lain, lying) are correctly used in the following examples: She often lies (not lays) down after lunch. When I lay (not laid) down, I fell asleep. The rubbish had lain (not laid) there a week. I was lying (not laying) in bed when he called. · There are a few exceptions to these rules. The phrasal verb lay for and the nautical use of lay, as in lay at anchor, though intransitive, are standard.

lay 2

1. Of, relating to, or involving the laity: a lay preacher.
2. Not of or belonging to a particular profession; nonprofessional: a lay opinion as to the seriousness of the disease.

[Middle English, from Old French lai, from Late Latin lāicus, from Greek lāikos, of the people, from lāos, the people.]

lay 3

1. A narrative poem, such as one sung by medieval minstrels; a ballad.
2. A song; a tune.

[Middle English, from Old French lai.]

lay 4

Past tense of lie1.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:

lay 1

1. To place (a story, for example) in a designated setting:
2. To deposit in a specified place:
3. To place (a corpse) in or as if in a grave:
Idiom: lay to rest.
4. To regard as belonging to or resulting from another:
5. To arrange tableware upon (a table) in preparation for a meal:
6. To form a strategy for:
Informal: dope out.
Idiom: lay plans.
7. To bring forward for formal consideration:
Archaic: allege.
8. To put up as a stake in a game or speculation.Also used with down:
Informal: go.
9. To make a bet:
Idiom: put one's money on something.
10. Military. To move (a weapon or blow, for example) in the direction of someone or something:
phrasal verb
lay aside
To reserve for the future:
phrasal verb
lay away
1. To reserve for the future:
2. To place (money) in a bank:
Informal: sock away.
phrasal verb
lay by
To reserve for the future:
phrasal verb
lay down
1. To let (something) go:
2. To set forth expressly and authoritatively:
phrasal verb
lay for
Informal. To wait concealed in order to attack (someone):
Idioms: lay wait for, lie in wait for.
phrasal verb
lay in
1. To reserve for the future:
2. To accumulate and set aside for future use:
lay up, save (up), stockpile, store (up).
phrasal verb
lay into
Slang. To punish with blows or lashes:
Informal: trim.
Slang: lick.
phrasal verb
lay off
Slang. To cease trying to accomplish or continue:
Informal: swear off.
phrasal verb
lay out
1. To plan the details or arrangements of:
2. To work out and arrange the parts or details of:
3. To show graphically the direction or location of, as by using coordinates:
chart, map (out), plot.
4. To distribute (money) as payment:
Informal: fork out (or over) (or up), shell out.
phrasal verb
lay up
1. To reserve for the future:
2. To accumulate and set aside for future use:
lay in, save (up), stockpile, store (up).
يُلْزِمه الفِراش، يُمْرِضُ
binde til sengen
hastalandırmakyatağa düşürmek


(lei) past tense, past participle laid (leid) verb
1. to place, set or put (down), often carefully. She laid the clothes in a drawer / on a chair; He laid down his pencil; She laid her report before the committee.
2. to place in a lying position. She laid the baby on his back.
3. to put in order or arrange. She went to lay the table for dinner; to lay one's plans / a trap.
4. to flatten. The animal laid back its ears; The wind laid the corn flat.
5. to cause to disappear or become quiet. to lay a ghost / doubts.
6. (of a bird) to produce (eggs). The hen laid four eggs; My hens are laying well.
7. to bet. I'll lay five pounds that you don't succeed.
ˈlayer noun
1. a thickness or covering. The ground was covered with a layer of snow; There was a layer of clay a few feet under the ground.
2. something which lays, especially a hen. a good layer.
to put, cut or arrange in layers. She had her hair layered by the hairdresser.
ˈlayabout noun
a lazy, idle person.
ˈlay-byplural ˈlay-bys noun
especially in Britain, a short extra part at the side of a road for people to stop their cars in, out of the way of the traffic.
ˈlayout noun
the manner in which something is displayed or laid out. the layout of the building.
laid up
ill in bed. When I caught flu, I was laid up for a fortnight.
lay aside
to put away or to one side, especially to be used or dealt with at a later time. She laid the books aside for later use.
lay bare
to show clearly; to expose to view. They dug up the road and laid bare the water-pipe; Shy people don't like to lay bare their feelings.
lay by
to put away for future use. She laid by a store of tinned vegetables.
lay down
1. to give up. They laid down their arms; The soldiers laid down their lives in the cause of peace.
2. to order or instruct. The rule book lays down what should be done in such a case.
3. to store. My father laid down a good stock of wine which I am now drinking.
lay (one's) hands on
1. to find or be able to obtain. I wish I could lay (my) hands on that book!
2. to catch. The police had been trying to lay hands on the criminal for months.
lay in
to get and store a supply of. I've laid in an extra stock of drinks for Christmas.
lay low
to make ill. I was laid low by flu, just before my exams.
lay off
to dismiss (employees) temporarily. Because of a shortage of orders, the firm has laid off a quarter of its workforce.
lay on
to provide. The staff laid on a tea party for the pupils.
lay out
1. to arrange over a wide area (especially according to a plan). He was the architect who laid out the public gardens.
2. to spread so as to be easily seen. He laid out the contents of the box on the table.
3. to knock unconscious.
4. to spend (money).
5. to prepare (a dead body) to be buried.
lay up
1. to keep or store. We laid up a good supply of apples this year from our own trees.
2. to put (a ship) out of use in a dock.
lay waste
to make (a piece of land) into barren country by burning and plundering.

lay needs an object and has laid as its past tense and past participle: He (had) laid his book down ; He will be laying his proposals before the committee tomorrow .
lie takes no object and has lying as its present participle, lay as its past tense and lain as its past participle: Please lie down ; He lay down ; He had lain there for hours .
lie , to be untruthful, has lying as its present participle, and lied as its past tense and past participle: She (has always) lied about her age .
References in classic literature ?
The reef on which we had struck was close in under the southwest end of Mull, off a little isle they call Earraid, which lay low and black upon the larboard.
For, now, the last of the fleet of ships was round the last low point we had headed; and the last green barge, straw-laden, with a brown sail, had followed; and some ballast-lighters, shaped like a child's first rude imitation of a boat, lay low in the mud; and a little squat shoal-lighthouse on open piles, stood crippled in the mud on stilts and crutches; and slimy stakes stuck out of the mud, and slimy stones stuck out of the mud, and red landmarks and tidemarks stuck out of the mud, and an old landing-stage and an old roofless building slipped into the mud, and all about us was stagnation and mud.
The door of the hut was open, the moon lay low on the sky like a ball of fire far away.