Lay Definition

Poetry Definition of Lay

A long narrative poem, especially one that was sung by medieval minstrels.


 - Excerpt

The Lay of the Last Minstrel
by Sir Walter Scott

The way was long, the wind was cold,
The Minstrel was infirm and old;
His wither'd cheek, and tresses gray,
Seem'd to have known a better day;
The harp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy.

Top 5 Lay Poem Examples

PMPoem TitlePoetFormCategories
Words from the Oracle Shango, L'nass Layallegory, philosophy
pray for me smith, frederick Laysympathy, me, prayer, me,
I went out walking to the woods today Smalling, David Layallegory, faith, life, time
Shadow Maiden Hawk, Black Laymystery, me, love, me,
Empathy Smalling, David Layhope, love

Standard Definition

[n] a narrative poem of popular origin
[n] a narrative song with a recurrent refrain
[adj] not of or from a profession; "a lay opinion as to the cause of the disease"
[adj] concerning those not members of the clergy; "set his collar in laic rather than clerical position"; "the lay ministry"; "the choir sings both sacred and secular music"
[v] put into a certain place or abstract location; "Put your things here"; "Set the tray down"; "Set the dogs on the scent of the missing children"; "Place emphasis on a certain point"
[v] put in a horizontal position; "lay the books on the table"; "lay the patient carefully onto the bed"
[v] lay eggs; of female animals; "This hen doesn't lay"
[v] prepare or position for action or operation; "lay a fire"; "lay the foundation for a new health care plan"
[v] impose as a duty, burden, or punishment; "lay a responsibility on someone"

Misc. Definitions

\Lay\, imp. of {Lie}, to recline.
\Lay\, a. [F. lai, L. laicus, Gr. ? of or from the people, lay, from ?, ?, people. Cf. {Laic}.]
1. Of or pertaining to the laity, as distinct from the clergy; as, a lay person; a lay preacher; a lay brother.
2. Not educated or cultivated; ignorant.[Obs.]
3. Not belonging to, or emanating from, a particular profession; unprofessional; as, a lay opinion regarding the nature of a disease. {Lay baptism} (Eccl.), baptism administered by a lay person. --F. G. Lee. {Lay brother} (R. C. Ch.), one received into a convent of monks under the three vows, but not in holy orders. {Lay clerk} (Eccl.), a layman who leads the responses of the congregation, etc., in the church service. --Hook. {Lay days} (Com.), time allowed in a charter party for taking in and discharging cargo. --McElrath. {Lay elder}. See 2d {Elder}, 3, note.
\Lay\, n. The laity; the common people. [Obs.] The learned have no more privilege than the lay. --B. Jonson.
\Lay\, n. A meadow. See {Lea}. [Obs.] --Dryden.
\Lay\, n. [OF. lei faith, law, F. loi law. See {Legal}.]
1. Faith; creed; religious profession. [Obs.] Of the sect to which that he was born He kept his lay, to which that he was sworn. --Chaucer.
2. A law. [Obs.] ``Many goodly lays.'' --Spenser.
3. An obligation; a vow. [Obs.] They bound themselves by a sacred lay and oath. -- Holland.
\Lay\, a. [OF. lai, lais, prob. of Celtic origin; cf. Ir. laoi, laoidh, song, poem, OIr. laoidh poem, verse; but cf. also AS. l[=a]c play, sport, G. leich a sort of poem (cf. {Lake} to sport). ?.]
1. A song; a simple lyrical poem; a ballad. --Spenser. Sir W. Scott.
2. A melody; any musical utterance. The throstle cock made eke his lay. --Chaucer.
\Lay\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Laid}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Laying}.] [OE. leggen, AS. lecgan, causative, fr. licgan to lie; akin to D. leggen, G. legen, Icel. leggja, Goth. lagjan. See {Lie} to be prostrate.]
1. To cause to lie down, to be prostrate, or to lie against something; to put or set down; to deposit; as, to lay a book on the table; to lay a body in the grave; a shower lays the dust. A stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den. --Dan. vi. 1
7. Soft on the flowery herb I found me laid. --Milton.
2. To place in position; to establish firmly; to arrange with regularity; to dispose in ranks or tiers; as, to lay a corner stone; to lay bricks in a wall; to lay the covers on a table.
3. To prepare; to make ready; to contrive; to provide; as, to lay a snare, an ambush, or a plan.
4. To spread on a surface; as, to lay plaster or paint.
5. To cause to be still; to calm; to allay; to suppress; to exorcise, as an evil spirit. After a tempest when the winds are laid. --Waller.
6. To cause to lie dead or dying. Brave C[ae]neus laid Ortygius on the plain, The victor C[ae]neus was by Turnus slain. --Dryden.
7. To deposit, as a wager; to stake; to risk. I dare lay mine honor He will remain so. --Shak.
8. To bring forth and deposit; as, to lay eggs.
9. To apply; to put. She layeth her hands to the spindle. --Prov. xxxi. 1
10. To impose, as a burden, suffering, or punishment; to assess, as a tax; as, to lay a tax on land. The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. --Is. Iiii.
6. 1
1. To impute; to charge; to allege. God layeth not folly to them. --Job xxiv. 1
2. Lay the fault on us. --Shak. 1
2. To impose, as a command or a duty; as, to lay commands on one. 1
3. To present or offer; as, to lay an indictment in a particular county; to lay a scheme before one. 1
4. (Law) To state; to allege; as, to lay the venue. --Bouvier. 1
5. (Mil.) To point; to aim; as, to lay a gun. 1
6. (Rope Making) To put the strands of (a rope, a cable, etc.) in their proper places and twist or unite them; as, to lay a cable or rope. 1
7. (Print.) (a) To place and arrange (pages) for a form upon the imposing stone. (b) To place (new type) properly in the cases. {To lay asleep}, to put sleep; to make unobservant or careless. --Bacon. {To lay bare}, to make bare; to strip. And laid those proud roofs bare to summer's rain. --Byron. {To lay before}, to present to; to submit for consideration; as, the papers are laid before Congress. {To lay by}. (a) To save. (b) To discard. Let brave spirits . . . not be laid by. --Bacon. {To lay by the heels}, to put in the stocks. --Shak. {To lay down}. (a) To stake as a wager. (b) To yield; to relinquish; to surrender; as, to lay down one's life; to lay down one's arms. (c) To assert or advance, as a proposition or principle. {To lay forth}. (a) To extend at length; (reflexively) to exert one's self; to expatiate. [Obs.] (b) To lay out (as a corpse). [Obs.] --Shak. {To lay hands on}, to seize. {To lay hands on one's self}, or {To lay violent hands on one's self}, to injure one's self; specif., to commit suicide. {To lay heads together}, to consult. {To lay hold of}, or {To lay hold on}, to seize; to catch. {To lay in}, to store; to provide. {To lay it on}, to apply without stint. --Shak. {To lay on}, to apply with force; to inflict; as, to lay on blows. {To lay on load}, to lay on blows; to strike violently. [Obs. or Archaic] {To lay one's self out}, to strive earnestly. No selfish man will be concerned to lay out himself for the good of his country. --Smalridge. {To lay one's self open to}, to expose one's self to, as to an accusation. {To lay open}, to open; to uncover; to expose; to reveal. {To lay over}, to spread over; to cover. {To lay out}. (a) To expend. --Macaulay. (b) To display; to discover. (c) To plan in detail; to arrange; as, to lay out a garden. (d) To prepare for burial; as, to lay out a corpse. (e) To exert; as, to lay out all one's strength. {To lay siege to}. (a) To besiege; to encompass with an army. (b) To beset pertinaciously. {To lay the course} (Naut.), to sail toward the port intended without jibing. {To lay the land} (Naut.), to cause it to disappear below the horizon, by sailing away from it. {To lay to} (a) To charge upon; to impute. (b) To apply with vigor. (c) To attack or harass. [Obs.] --Knolles. (d) (Naut.) To check the motion of (a vessel) and cause it to be stationary. {To lay to heart}, to feel deeply; to consider earnestly. {To lay under}, to subject to; as, to lay under obligation or restraint. {To lay unto}. (a) Same as {To lay to} (above). (b) To put before. --Hos. xi.
4. {To lay up}. (a) To store; to reposit for future use. (b) To confine; to disable. (c) To dismantle, and retire from active service, as a ship. {To lay wait for}, to lie in ambush for. {To lay waste}, to destroy; to make desolate; as, to lay waste the land. Syn: See {Put}, v. t., and the Note under 4th {Lie}.
\Lay\, v. i.
1. To produce and deposit eggs.
2. (Naut.) To take a position; to come or go; as, to lay forward; to lay aloft.
3. To lay a wager; to bet. {To lay about}, or {To lay about one}, to strike vigorously in all directions. --J. H. Newman. {To lay at}, to strike or strike at. --Spenser. {To lay for}, to prepare to capture or assault; to lay wait for. [Colloq.] --Bp Hall. {To lay in for}, to make overtures for; to engage or secure the possession of. [Obs.] ``I have laid in for these.'' --Dryden. {To lay on}, to strike; to beat; to attack. --Shak. {To lay out}, to purpose; to plan; as, he lays out to make a journey.
\Lay\, n.
1. That which lies or is laid or is conceived of as having been laid or placed in its position; a row; a stratum; a layer; as, a lay of stone or wood. --Addison. A viol should have a lay of wire strings below. --Bacon. Note: The lay of a rope is right-handed or left-handed according to the hemp or strands are laid up. See {Lay}, v. t., 1
6. The lay of land is its topographical situation, esp. its slope and its surface features.
2. A wager. ``My fortunes against any lay worth naming.''
3. (a) A job, price, or profit. [Prov. Eng.] --Wright. (b) A share of the proceeds or profits of an enterprise; as, when a man ships for a whaling voyage, he agrees for a certain lay. [U. S.]
4. (Textile Manuf.) (a) A measure of yarn; a lea. See 1st {Lea} (a) . (b) The lathe of a loom. See {Lathe},
5. A plan; a scheme. [Slang] --Dickens. {Lay figure}. (a) A jointed model of the human body that may be put in any attitude; -- used for showing the disposition of drapery, etc. (b) A mere puppet; one who serves the will of others without independent volition. {Lay race}, that part of a lay on which the shuttle travels in weaving; -- called also {shuttle race}.

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