Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


Mrs. Pendleton laid down her work, and leaned back in her chair.

He hurried on a few paces, then stopped and laid down his bag.

I laid down the letter, and, full of mortification, went walking about the room.

I would rather we were dead and laid down in our graves, than you should ever come to love it.'

The abbé had laid down his fork; he held his napkin to his face.

Once when I asked him if it were so, he laid down his pen and said, “Yes.”

He laid down this dogma as the necessary basis of any reform by persuasion.

Now let us see how it will stand the various tests which I laid down just now.

We shall now have to put in practice the principles that I then laid down.

Conditions were refused, and finally the Turks laid down their arms.


Old English lecgan "to place on the ground (or other surface)," also "put down (often by striking)," from Proto-Germanic *lagjanan (cf. Old Saxon leggian, Old Norse leggja, Old Frisian ledza, Middle Dutch legghan, Dutch leggen, Old High German lecken, German legen, Gothic lagjan "to lay, put, place"), causative of lie (v.2). As a noun, from 1550s, "act of laying." Meaning "way in which something is laid" (e.g. lay of the land) first recorded 1819.

Meaning "have sex with" first recorded 1934, in U.S. slang, probably from sense of "deposit" (which was in Old English, as in lay an egg, lay a bet, etc.), perhaps reinforced by to lie with, a phrase frequently met in the Bible. The noun meaning "woman available for sexual intercourse" is attested from 1930, but there are suggestions of it in stage puns from as far back as 1767. To lay for (someone) "await a chance at revenge" is from late 15c.; lay low "stay inconspicuous" is from 1839. To lay (someone) low preserves the secondary Old English sense.