1 verb
lie1 S2 W1 past tense lay past participle lain present participle lying, third person singular lies

flat position

a) [intransitive] to be in a position in which your body is flat on the floor, on a bed etc
lie on/in etc
He was lying on the bed smoking a cigarette.
Don't lie in the sun for too long.
lie there
For a few minutes he just lay there.
lie still/awake etc
She would lie awake worrying.
The dog was lying dead on the floor.
b) also lie down [intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to put yourself in a position in which your body is flat on the floor or on a bed
lie on
Lie flat on the floor.
lie back
She lay back against the pillows.
c) [intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to be in a flat position on a surface
lie on/in etc
The papers were lying neatly on his desk.
see usage note lay2


[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] if a problem, an answer, blame etc lies somewhere, it is caused by, exists, or can be found in that thing, person, or situation
fault/blame/responsibility lies with somebody
Part of the blame must lie with social services.
the problem/answer etc lies with/in something
The difficulty lies in providing sufficient evidence.
The strength of the book lies in the fact that the material is from classroom experience.
herein/therein lies the problem/dilemma etc
And herein lies the key to their achievements.


[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] if a town, village, etc lies in a particular place, it is in that place:
The town lies in a small wooded valley.
The Tasman Sea lies between Tasmania and Australia.


[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] if something lies ahead of you, lies in the future etc, it is going to happen to you in the future
lie ahead
How will we cope with the difficulties that lie ahead?
lie before
A blank and empty future lay before me.
I was wondering what lay in store for us.


[linking verb] to be in a particular state or condition
lie empty/open/hidden etc
The book lay open on the table.
The town now lay in ruins.

lie at the heart/centre/root of something

to be the most important part of something, especially the main cause of it:
the issue that lies at the heart of the present conflict

lie low

a) to remain hidden because someone is trying to find you or catch you:
We'll have to lie low until tonight.
b) to wait and try not to be noticed by anyone:
He decided to lie low for a while after the report came out.

lie in wait (for somebody)

a) to remain hidden in a place and wait for someone so that you can attack them:
a giant crocodile lying in wait for its prey
b) if something bad lies in wait for you, it is going to happen to you

lie (in) second/third/fourth etc (place)

British English to be in second, third etc position in a competition:
Liverpool are lying third in the football championship.

lie heavy on somebody

formal if something lies heavy on you, it makes you feel unhappy:
The feelings of guilt lay heavy on him.

dead person

[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] if someone lies in a particular place, they are buried there:
Here lies Percival Smythe (=written on a gravestone).

lie in state

if an important person who has died lies in state, their body is put in a public place so that people can go and look at the body in order to show their respect for that person

➔ let sleeping dogs lie

at sleep1 (6)

lie around

phrasal verb

lie around (something)

if something is lying around, it has been left somewhere in an untidy way, rather than being in its proper place:
If you leave your shoes lying around like that, you'll trip over them.
Papers and books lay around the room in complete chaos.
2 if you lie around, you spend time lying down and not doing anything:
I felt so lazy just lying around on the beach all day.

lie behind something

phrasal verb
if something lies behind an action, it is the real reason for the action even though it may be hidden:
She soon guessed what lay behind his question.
Two basic assumptions lay behind the policy.

lie down

phrasal verb
1 to put yourself in a position in which your body is flat on the floor or on a bed:
Just lie down on the bed.

take something lying down

informal to accept bad treatment without complaining:
I'm not going to take this lying down!

lie in

phrasal verb
to remain in bed in the morning for longer than usual lie-in

lie up

phrasal verb
to hide or rest somewhere for a period of time:
The next day they lay up in a cave.

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