Topic: BIRDS


2 verb
lay2 past tense and past participle laid

put somebody/something down

[transitive always + adverb/preposition] to put someone or something down carefully into a flat position [= place]:
He laid his hand on my shoulder.
They laid a wreath at the place where so many people died.
Lay the material flat on the table.

lay bricks/carpet/concrete/cables etc

to put or fasten bricks, a carpet etc in the correct place, especially on the ground or floor:
The carpet was laid last week.
The project involved laying an oil pipeline across the desert.

bird/insect etc

[intransitive and transitive]HBB if a bird, insect etc lays eggs, it produces them from its body:
The flies lay their eggs on decaying meat.
A cuckoo is able to lay in a range of different nests.


[transitive] British EnglishDF to put the cloth, plates, knives, forks etc on a table, ready for a meal [= set]:
As she spoke, she was laying him a place at the table.

lay the foundations/groundwork/base

to provide the conditions that will make it possible for something to happen or be successful
lay the foundations/groundwork/base for
Mandela helped lay the foundations for a new democratic South Africa.
It was an invention which laid the foundations of modern radio technology.

give information

[transitive] formal to make a statement, give information etc in an official or public way [= put]:
Several proposals have been laid before the committee.

lay emphasis/stress on something

formal to emphasize something because you believe it is very important:
a political philosophy that lays great stress on individual responsibility

lay a hand/finger on somebody

[usually in negatives] to touch someone with the intention of hurting them:
I swear I didn't lay a finger on him.
If you lay one hand on me, I'll scream.

lay bare/open something

also lay something bare/open
a) to show what something is really like, or stop hiding facts, feelings etc:
Every aspect of their private life has been laid bare.
b) to remove the thing that is covering or hiding something else:
When the tide goes out, vast stretches of sand are laid bare.

lay somebody/something open to something

to do something that makes it possible for other people to blame you, criticize you etc
lay yourself open to something
By doing that, he laid himself open to ridicule.
Not to have taken action would have laid the department open to charges of negligence.

lay waste something

also lay waste to something formal to destroy or damage something, especially in a war:
The island was laid waste and abandoned.
an attack which laid waste to hundreds of villages

lay plans/a trap etc

to carefully prepare all the details of something:
We are laying plans now in order to be successful in the future.
the best-laid plans (=plans that have been made carefully)
Bad weather can upset even the best-laid travel plans.

lay claim to (doing) something

to say that something belongs to you or say that you deserve something:
The town can lay claim to having the oldest theatre in Britain.
No one has laid claim to the property.

lay siege to somebody/something

a) if a group of people lay siege to a place, they try to get control by surrounding it:
The armies laid siege to Vienna in 1529.
b) to do everything you can to get someone to talk to you or notice you:
A group of young men were always at the stage door, trying to lay siege to the girls.

have sex

get laid

[transitive] informal to have sex with someone:
All he wants to do is go out and get laid.


[intransitive] spoken to be in a position in which you are flat - some people consider this use to be incorrect [= lie]

risk money

[transitive] especially British English to risk an amount of money on the result of a race, sports game etc [= bet]
lay something on something
She laid £50 on the favourite, Golden Boy.
lay money (that)
I'd lay money that he will go on to play for England.

lay somebody/something on the line

a) to state something, especially a threat, demand, or criticism, in a very clear way:
Lay it on the line and tell them what's really been happening.
b) also put somebody/something on the line to risk losing your life, your job etc, especially in order to help someone:
I've laid myself on the line for him once already.

lay something at the door of somebody/something

also lay something at somebody's door to blame something or someone for something:
The continued divisions within the party cannot be laid entirely at his door.
Many illnesses are being laid at the door of stress.

lay somebody low

a) [usually passive] if an illness lays someone low, they are unable to do their normal activities for a period of time
lay somebody low with
She's been laid low with flu for a week.
b) literary to make someone fall down, or injure them seriously

lay somebody to rest

formal to bury someone after they have died:
She was laid to rest beside her husband.

➔ lay/put something to rest

at rest1 (10)

lay the ghost (of something)

to finally stop being worried or upset by something from the past

➔ lay your hands on something

at hand1 (18)

➔ lay the blame on somebody/something

at blame2

➔ put/lay your cards on the table

at card1 (13)

lay about somebody

phrasal verb
to attack someone violently [= set about]
lay about somebody with
He laid about his attackers with a stick.

lay something ↔ aside

phrasal verb
1 to stop using something and put it down, especially so you can do something else [= put aside]:
Richard had laid aside his book to watch what was happening.
2 to stop behaving in a particular way, or stop having particular feelings, especially so you can achieve something [= put aside]:
On the day of the wedding, all arguments between the families were laid aside.
As a doctor, you often need to lay aside your personal feelings.
3 also lay something ↔ by to keep something, especially money, so you can use it in the future [= put by]:
She'd laid aside a few pounds each week from her wages.

lay something ↔ down

phrasal verb

officially state

to officially state something or say that rules, principles etc must be obeyed:
He had already clearly laid down his view in his opening speech.
lay down that
The contract laid down that the work must be completed before 2025.


if people lay down their weapons, they stop fighting:
The terrorists were urged to lay down their arms.

lay down the law

to tell other people what to do, how they should think etc, in a very strong or impolite way:
I could hear him laying down the law.

lay down your life

formal to die in order to help other people
lay down your life for
He was even prepared to lay down his life for his friends.


to store something, especially wine, to use in the future

lay something ↔ in

phrasal verb
to get and store a supply of something to use in the future:
He likes to lay in a few special drinks for the festive season.

lay into somebody/something

phrasal verb
to attack or criticize someone or something:
Outside the club, two men were laying into each other.

lay off

phrasal verb

lay somebody ↔ off

to stop employing someone because there is no work for them to do [↪ layoff]:
The company laid off 250 workers in December.
Millions of people have been laid off in the steel industry.

lay off (something)

informal to stop using or doing something:
I think you'd better lay off alcohol for a while.
lay off doing something
I had to lay off running for several months.

lay off (somebody)

informal to stop annoying someone or hurting them:
Just lay off, will you!
I wish he'd lay off me!

lay something ↔ off

to pass the ball to someone in your team in a game such as football - used in sports reports
lay something off to somebody
Murphy has the ball and then lays it off to Owen.

lay something on

phrasal verb

lay something ↔ on

especially British English to provide something such as food, entertainment, or transport for a group of people:
They laid on a buffet for his farewell party.
A bus has been laid on to take you home.

lay something on somebody

to ask someone to do something, especially something that is difficult or something they will not want to do:
Sorry to lay this on you, but we need someone to give a talk at the conference next week.

lay it on (thick)

a) to praise someone or something too much, especially in order to get what you want
b) to talk about something in a way that makes it seem more important, serious etc than it really is [= exaggerate]

lay somebody/something ↔ out

phrasal verb


to spread something out:
Lay out the map on the table and let's have a look.


to arrange or plan a building, town, garden etc [= set out]:
The garden is laid out in a formal pattern.


to describe or explain something clearly [= set out]:
The financial considerations are laid out in a booklet called 'How to Borrow Money'.


informal to spend money, especially a lot of money [↪ outlay]
lay out something on something
What's the point in laying out money on something you'll only wear once?


informal to hit someone so hard that they fall down and become unconscious:
One of the guards had been laid out and the other was missing.


to prepare a dead body so that it can be buried

lay over

phrasal verb
to stay somewhere for a short time before continuing your trip [↪ layover]

lay up

phrasal verb

be laid up (with something)

to have to stay in bed because you are ill or injured:
I was laid up for a week with flu.
2 to stop using a boat or vehicle, especially while it is being repaired
lay something ↔ up
Most of the yachts were laid up for the winter.

lay something ↔ up

old-fashioned to collect and store something to use in the future:
We started laying up firewood for the winter.

lay, lie
The verb lay must have an object. It is a slightly literary way to say 'put something somewhere' She lays a silk cloth over the table. The verb lie does not have an object. It means 'be or get into a horizontal position somewhere' Let's lie on the grass. Lie down here for a while.!! lay is also the past tense of lie I lay on the couch and tried to relax. The past tense of lay is laid He laid his hand on my shoulder.

Explore BIRDS Topic

Word of the Day
The BIRDS Word of the Day is:

Other related topics