1 [in singular] the general appearance of an area of land:the lay of the surrounding countryside
the position or direction in which something lies:roll the carpet against the lay of the nap
the direction or amount of twist in rope strands.
2 vulgar slang an act of sexual intercourse.
[with adjective] a person with a particular ability or availability as a sexual partner.
3 [mass noun] the laying of eggs or the period during which they are laid:the onset of lay may be marked by a dropping of the duck’s abdomen
1 [with object and adverbial of place] put (something) down gently or carefully:she laid the baby in his cot
[with object] prevent (something) from rising off the ground:there may have been the odd light shower just to lay the dust
2 [with object] put down and set in position for use:it is advisable to have your carpet laid by a professional
British set cutlery, crockery, etc. on (a table) in preparation for a meal:she laid the table for dinner
(often be laid with) cover (a surface) with objects or a substance:the floor was laid with mattresses
put the material for (a fire) in place and arrange it:he was making newspaper knots before laying a fire in the fireplace
prepare (a trap) for someone:she wouldn’t put it past him to lay a trap for her
work out (an idea or suggestion) in detail ready for use or presentation:I’d like more time to lay my plans
(lay something before) present information or suggestions to be considered and acted upon by (someone):he laid before Parliament proposals for the establishment of the committee
locate (an episode in a play, novel, etc.) in a particular place:no one who knew the area could be in doubt where the scene was laid
[with object] stake (an amount of money) in a bet:she suspected he was pulling her leg, but she wouldn’t have laid money on it
3 [with object] used with an abstract noun so that the phrase formed has the same meaning as the verb related to the noun used, e.g. ‘lay the blame on’ means ‘to blame’:she laid great stress on little courtesies
4 [with object] (of a female bird, insect, reptile, or amphibian) produce (an egg) from inside the body:flamingos lay only one egg [no object]:the hens were laying at the same rate as usual
5 [with object] vulgar slang have sexual intercourse with.
6 [with object] Nautical follow (a specified course):I’m going to lay a course for Ibiza harbour
7 [with object] trim (a hedge) back, cutting the branches half through, bending them down, and interweaving them:most hedges are no longer laid