from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To be or place oneself at rest in a flat, horizontal, or recumbent position; recline: He lay under a tree to sleep.
  • intransitive v. To be placed on or supported by a surface that is usually horizontal: Dirty dishes lay on the table. See Usage Note at lay1.
  • intransitive v. To be or remain in a specified condition: The dust has lain undisturbed for years. He lay sick in bed.
  • intransitive v. To exist; reside: Our sympathies lie with the plaintiff.
  • intransitive v. To consist or have as a basis. Often used with in: The strength of his performance lies in his training.
  • intransitive v. To occupy a position or place: The lake lies beyond this hill.
  • intransitive v. To extend: Our land lies between these trees and the river.
  • intransitive v. To be buried in a specified place.
  • intransitive v. Law To be admissible or maintainable.
  • intransitive v. Archaic To stay for a night or short while.
  • n. The manner or position in which something is situated.
  • n. A haunt or hiding place of an animal.
  • n. Sports The position of a golf ball that has come to a stop.
  • lie down To do little or nothing: He's lying down on the job.
  • lie in To be in confinement for childbirth.
  • lie to Nautical To remain stationary while facing the wind.
  • lie with To be decided by, dependent on, or up to: The choice lies with you.
  • lie with Archaic To have sexual intercourse with.
  • idiom lie To keep oneself or one's plans hidden.
  • idiom lie To bide one's time but remain ready for action.
  • n. A false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood.
  • n. Something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression.
  • intransitive v. To present false information with the intention of deceiving.
  • intransitive v. To convey a false image or impression: Appearances often lie.
  • transitive v. To cause to be in a specific condition or affect in a specific way by telling falsehoods: You have lied yourself into trouble.
  • idiom lie through one's teeth To lie outrageously or brazenly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To be in a horizontal position.
  • v. To be placed or situated.
  • n. The terrain and conditions surrounding the ball before it is struck.
  • n. The position of a fetus in the womb.
  • n. An intentionally false statement; an intentional falsehood.
  • n. A statement intended to deceive, even if literally true; a half-truth
  • v. To give false information intentionally.
  • v. To convey a false image or impression.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. See lye.
  • n. A falsehood uttered or acted for the purpose of deception; an intentional violation of truth; an untruth spoken with the intention to deceive.
  • n. A fiction; a fable; an untruth.
  • n. Anything which misleads or disappoints.
  • n. The position or way in which anything lies; the lay, as of land or country.
  • intransitive v. To utter falsehood with an intention to deceive; to say or do that which is intended to deceive another, when he a right to know the truth, or when morality requires a just representation.
  • intransitive v. To rest extended on the ground, a bed, or any support; to be, or to put one's self, in an horizontal position, or nearly so; to be prostate; to be stretched out; -- often with down, when predicated of living creatures
  • intransitive v. To be situated; to occupy a certain place
  • intransitive v. To abide; to remain for a longer or shorter time; to be in a certain state or condition
  • intransitive v. To be or exist; to belong or pertain; to have an abiding place; to consist; -- with in.
  • intransitive v. To lodge; to sleep.
  • intransitive v. To be still or quiet, like one lying down to rest.
  • intransitive v. To be sustainable; to be capable of being maintained.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To rest in a recumbent or prostrate position; remain or be held flatwise, lengthwise, or inclined on a supporting surface; recline or be prone or supine on something.
  • To be in a quiescent state; be or become quiet or inactive; remain passive or expectant.
  • To lay or place one's self in a recumbent or prostrate position; take a reclining posture: often followed by down when entire prostration is intended: as, to lie back in a chair; to lie down on the ground.
  • To have place, position, or direction; be situated, set, or settled; stay or abide: as, the Azores lie in the Atlantic ocean; the army lay in a fortified camp.
  • To be confined or imprisoned.
  • To rest or remain in a state or condition; continue inactive or unchanged: as, to lie in soak; the land lies fallow.
  • To be in a certain direction; be present in a particular place or thing; be found; exist.
  • To lodge; pass the night; sleep.
  • To rest; bear; press; weigh: with on or upon.
  • In law, to be sustainable; be capable of being maintained: as, an action lies against the tenant for waste.
  • Nautical, to careen with the wind abeam, as a ship.
  • To rest; intermit labor; knock off: as, we lay by in the heat of the day.
  • Nautical, same as to lie to.
  • [By, prep.] To remain with; be accessible to, or be in the keeping of: as, he has the documents lying by him.
  • Nautical, to remain near, as one ship to another at sea.
  • To be an obstacle or impediment: as, objections that lie in the way of adjustment.
  • To conceal one's views or intentions.
  • To be incumbent upon, as an obligation or a duty: as, it lies on the plaintiff to maintain his action.
  • To depend on.
  • To importune; urge.
  • To be unspent or remain unemployed; hence, of unoccupied time, with a qualifying word, as heavy, to cause ennui; be tedious: as, the hours lay heavy on my hands.
  • To be deferred to some future occasion, as a motion or resolution in a deliberative assembly.
  • To have carnal knowledge of.
  • To belong to: as, it lies with you to make amends.
  • Synonyms Lie, Lay. “Lay is a transitive verb, and has for its preterit laid: as, he told me to lay it down, and I laid it down. Lie is intransitive, and has for its preterit lay: as, he told me to lie down, and I lay down. Some persons blunder by using laid for the preterit of lie: as, he told me to lie down, and I laid down. So persons often say, the ship laid at anchor; they laid by during the storm; the book laid on the shelf, etc. It is only necessary to remember, in all such cases, that laid is the preterit of lay and not of lie. This would save many respectable writers from a gross error which seems to be increasing among us.” (Goodrich.) Similarly, laid is often erroneously used for lain: as, I had laid down; and lain is sometimes used for laid.
  • To speak falsely; utter untruth for the purpose of misleading; make a misrepresentation consciously: followed by about, etc., and formerly (and still sometimes colloquially) by on.
  • To make a false impression, either consciously or unconsciously; hold forth a misleading or deceitful appearance; act or manifest an untruth: used of both persons and things.
  • In heraldry, same as stringed.
  • n. Manner of lying; relative direction, position, arrangement, etc. See lay, n., 4.
  • n. The place where a bird, beast, or fish is accustomed to lie or lurk; haunt.
  • n. In railroading, a siding or short offset from the main line, into which trucks may be run for the purpose of loading and unloading; one of the different sets of rails at a terminus on which trucks stand while being loaded or unloaded.
  • n. A false statement made with the purpose of deceiving; an intentional untruth; a falsehood; the utterance by speech or act of that which is false, with intent to mislead or delude.
  • n. That which is intended or serves to deceive or mislead; anything designed or adapted to produce false conclusions or expectations: as, this epitaph is a lie.
  • n. Synonyms Untruth, deception. Compare fib.
  • n. An obsolete spelling of lye.
  • n. An obsolete form of lee.
  • n. An obsolete form of lee.
  • n. In golf:
  • n. The angle which the shaft of a club makes with the head. A club has a flat lie when the angle is very obtuse, and an upright lie when it is less obtuse.
  • n. The position of a ball at rest on the course.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. tell an untruth; pretend with intent to deceive
  • v. assume a reclining position
  • n. Norwegian diplomat who was the first Secretary General of the United Nations (1896-1968)
  • n. position or manner in which something is situated
  • v. have a place in relation to something else
  • n. a statement that deviates from or perverts the truth
  • v. be located or situated somewhere; occupy a certain position
  • v. be and remain in a particular state or condition
  • v. originate (in)
  • v. be lying, be prostrate; be in a horizontal position


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English lien, from Old English licgan; see legh- in Indo-European roots.
Middle English, from Old English lyge; see leugh- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English lien, liggen, from Old English licgan, from Proto-Germanic *ligjanan, from Proto-Indo-European *legʰ-. Cognate with Danish ligge, Dutch liggen, German liegen, Gothic 𐌻𐌹𐌲𐌰𐌽 (ligan), Swedish ligga; and with Latin lectus ("bed"), Irish luighe, Russian лежать, Albanian lagje ("inhabited area, neighbourhood").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English lien ("to lie, tell a falsehood"), from Old English lēogan ("to lie"), from Proto-Germanic *leuganan (“to lie”), from Proto-Indo-European *leugh- (“to lie, swear, bemoan”). Cognate with Dutch liegen ("to lie"), German lügen ("to lie"), Danish lyve ("to lie"), Swedish ljuga ("to lie"), Bulgarian лъжа ("to lie"), Russian лгать ("to lie").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, from Old English lyġe ("lie, falsehood"), from Proto-Germanic *lugiz (“lie, falsehood”), from Proto-Indo-European *leugh- (“to tell lies, swear, complain”). Cognate with Old Saxon luggi ("a lie"), Old High German lugī (German Lüge, "a lie"), Danish løgn ("a lie"), Bulgarian лъжа ("а lie"),



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  • The dieoff ptero writes of is much lesser in Australia and Britain in my opinion.

    June 5, 2014

  • This word embarrasses me. I associate it with the failure of my own willpower. I feel guilty when I hear it.

    An explanation: As you probably know, the word lie, as in "I lie on the bed/I lay on the bed/I had lain on the bed", is dying out. Its duties have been mostly taken up by lay, a word that used to be transitive only ("I lay the pillow on the bed/I laid the pillow on the bed/I had laid the pillow on the bed"), but now is used intransitively ("I lay on the bed/I laid on the bed/I had laid on the bed".)

    For a while, I fought to keep lie alive. I'd make snarky comments to my friends, things like "You can't 'lay' on the bed unless you're a chicken", and then when they gave me the inevitable confused look, I'd launch into a sermon about the glories of the lie/lay distinction. It never really worked, and I was beginning to despair, and then...

    ...then I asked myself "Why are we preserving this stupid distinction, anyway?" Plenty of verbs work do double-duty as transitive and intransitive verbs, and they all work perfectly well. Why fight this one? Let it take over. Let lie die out. And as a bonus, if lie does die out, it would (1) eliminate confusion with the homonym "lie", meaning "to knowingly give false information", and (2) help reduce the number of irregular verbs in English. Surely that's a noble cause.

    So now the conclusion I've reached, and my official position if anyone asks, is that we should use "lay" for both transitive and intransitive purposes, and that "lie" should die a speedy death.

    And yet... despite all this thought and effort and determination... I can't bring myself to do it. Apparently, there's a prescriptivist demon deep inside of me, forcing me to abide by the "formal rules" of English. My "lays" and "lies" still drop precisely into place, to match the transitivity of what I'm saying, and I don't know how to make it stop.

    January 19, 2010

  • "'My mom taught me how to lie. She always lied to the police, to everybody,' he told a therapist after throwing scissors in school. 'I lied when I was 1 year old, I lied when I was 2 years old. I was born a liar and I will always be lying,' he said in another therapy session."

    - 7-Year-Old With Troubled Past Commits Suicide,, 26 April 2009.

    April 27, 2009