Date: 1100-1200
Language: Old French
Origin: paier, from Latin pacere 'to make calm or peaceful', from pax; PEACE


1 verb
Related topics: Business, Wages
pay1 S1 W1 past tense and past participle paid

give money

[intransitive and transitive] to give someone money for something you buy or for a service:
How would you like to pay?
pay for
Mum paid for my driving lessons.
pay (in) cash
You'd get a discount for paying cash.
pay by cheque/credit card
Can I pay by credit card?
pay somebody for something
He didn't even offer to pay me for the ticket.
pay somebody to do something
Ray paid some kids to wash the car.
pay somebody something
I paid him $5 to cut the grass.
pay (somebody) in dollars/euros etc
He wanted to be paid in dollars.


[transitive]B to pay money that you owe to a person, company etc:
I forgot to pay the gas bill!
You pay tax at the basic rate.
Is it okay if I pay you what I owe you next week?


[intransitive and transitive]BEW to give someone money for the job they do:
How much do they pay you?
pay somebody $100 a day/£200 a week etc
They're only paid about £4 an hour.
Some lawyers get paid over $400 an hour.
be paid weekly/monthly also get paid weekly/monthly
We get paid weekly on Fridays.
well/badly/poorly paid
Many of the workers are very badly paid.

pay attention (to somebody/something)

to watch, listen to, or think about someone or something carefully:
I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention to what you were saying.
They paid no attention to (=ignored) him.

legal cost

[transitive] to give money to someone because you are ordered to by a court as part of a legal case:
She had to pay a £35 fine for speeding.
pay (something in) compensation/damages (=give someone money because you have done something against them)
The company were forced to pay £5000 in compensation.
Martins was ordered to pay court costs of £1500.

say something good

[transitive] to say something good or polite about or to someone:
The minister paid tribute to the work of the emergency services.
I came by to pay my respects (=visit or send a polite greeting to someone) to Mrs Owens.
I was just trying to pay her a compliment.

good result

[intransitive] if a particular action pays, it brings a good result or advantage for you:
Crime doesn't pay.
It pays to get some professional advice before you make a decision.
It would pay you to ask if there are any jobs going at the London office.
Getting some qualifications now will pay dividends (=bring a lot of advantages) in the long term.


[intransitive] if a shop or business pays, it makes a profit:
If the pub doesn't start to pay, we'll have to sell it.
The farm just manages to pay its way (=make as much profit as it costs to run).

pay the penalty/price

to experience something unpleasant because you have done something wrong, made a mistake etc
pay the penalty/price for (doing) something
Williams is now paying the price for his early mistakes.

pay a call/visit

, pay somebody a call/visit to visit a person or place:
I decided to pay my folks a visit.
pay a call/visit to
If you have time, pay a visit to the City Art Gallery.

put paid to something

British English to stop something from happening or spoil plans for something:
Bad exam results put paid to his hopes of a university place.

be punished

[intransitive] to suffer or be punished for something you have done wrong:
I'll make him pay!
pay for
They paid dearly for their mistakes.

pay your way

to pay for everything that you want without having to depend on anyone else for money:
Sofia worked to pay her way through college.

pay for itself

if something you buy pays for itself, the money it saves over a period of time is as much as the product cost to buy:
A new boiler would pay for itself within two years.

the devil/hell to pay

used to say that someone will be in a lot of trouble about something:
If the boss finds out you were late again, there's going to be hell to pay.

pay through the nose (for something)

spoken to pay much more for something than it is really worth

somebody has paid their debt to society

used to say that someone who has done something illegal has been fully punished for it

'pay court (to somebody)

old-fashioned to treat someone, especially a woman, carefully and with respect, so that they will like you or help you

he who pays the piper calls the tune

old-fashioned used to say that the person who gives the money for something can decide how it will be used

➔ pay lip service to

at lip service

➔ pay your dues

at due2 (2)

pay somebody/something ↔ back

phrasal verb
1BFL to give someone the money that you owe them [= repay]:
I'll pay you back on Friday.
We're paying back the loan over 15 years.
2 to make someone suffer for doing something wrong or unpleasant
pay somebody back for something
I'll pay Jenny back for what she did to me!

pay something ↔ in

phrasal verb
BFB to put money in your bank account etc:
Did you remember to pay that cheque in?
I've paid $250 into my account.

pay off

phrasal verb

pay something ↔ off

BF to give someone all the money you owe them:
I'll pay off all my debts first.
He finally paid his overdraft off.
2 if something you do pays off, it is successful or has a good result:
Teamwork paid off.

pay somebody ↔ off

British EnglishBEW to pay someone their wages and tell them they no longer have a job:
Two hundred workers have been paid off.

pay somebody ↔ off

to pay someone not to say anything about something illegal or dishonest

pay out

phrasal verb

pay out (something)

to pay a lot of money for something:
Why is it always me who has to pay out?
pay out (something) for
Altogether he had paid out almost £5000 for the improvements.

pay out (something)

if a company or organization pays out, it gives someone money as a result of an insurance claim, investment, competition etc:
Insurance companies were slow paying out on claims for flood damage.

pay something ↔ out

to let a piece of rope unwind

pay something ↔ over

phrasal verb
BFS to make an official payment of money
pay something ↔ over to
Clancy's share of the inheritance was paid over to him.

pay up

phrasal verb
BFL to pay money that you owe, especially when you do not want to or you are late:
She refused to pay up.

The verb pay is followed directly by a noun when you are talking about paying a person I'll pay you tomorrow. I haven't paid my accountant yet.Pay is also followed directly by a noun when you are talking about the amount of money you pay I've already paid £700. !! Do not use pay followed directly by a noun referring to the thing you are buying. Use pay (an amount of money) for something When I paid for my tickets (NOT paid my tickets) the man told me there was no discount. I paid £100 for this jacket. When you are talking about whether you pay for something using a cheque, a credit card etc, use pay by If you pay by credit card, you get free insurance. When you are talking about the type of money you use to pay something, use pay in You can only pay in euros.

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