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[in-leyd, in-leyd] /ˈɪnˌleɪd, ɪnˈleɪd/
set into the surface of something:
an inlaid design on a chest.
decorated or made with a design set into the surface:
an inlaid table.
1590-1600; past participle of inlay
Related forms
uninlaid, adjective


[v. in-ley, in-ley; n. in-ley] /v. ˈɪnˌleɪ, ˌɪnˈleɪ; n. ˈɪnˌleɪ/
verb (used with object), inlaid, inlaying.
to decorate (an object) with layers of fine materials set in its surface:
to inlay a chest with lighter wood.
to insert or apply (layers of fine materials) in the surface of an object:
to inlay marble in a tabletop.
Horticulture. to place (a fitted scion) into a prepared stock, as in a method of grafting.
inlaid work.
a layer of fine material inserted in something else, especially for ornament.
a design or decoration made by inlaying.
Dentistry. a filling of metal, porcelain, or the like, that is first shaped to fit a cavity and then cemented into it.
Horticulture, inlay graft.
the act or process of inlaying.
1590-1600; in-1 + lay1
Related forms
inlayer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for inlaid
  • The inlaid decorative woodwork of some of their harps has already turned them into museum pieces.
  • The walls are inlaid with fishtanks stocked with exotic, brightly colored species from around the world.
  • There's a certain amount of whimsy at play here too: for instance, the brightly colored butterflies inlaid into the mosaic floors.
  • Seashells inlaid with obsidian formed tiny masks for their mouths, which in turn held jade and pyrite ornaments.
  • But instead, looking up at me with inlaid eyes, was an exquisite gold-and-copper funerary mask.
  • What remains is an amazing fantasy land of organic pillars and colorful, broken-tile inlaid benches, stairways and sculptures.
  • The entry walls are lined in imported mahogany, the gallery floors are inlaid marble mosaic with a custom built-in wet bar.
  • There's even a pig inlaid into a tile circle in the floor.
  • Take care to avoid snagging the raised edges sometimes found on veneered and inlaid surfaces.
  • Unlike ordinary glazed tile, the pattern in encaustic tile is made of colored clays inlaid or imbedded in the clay ground.
British Dictionary definitions for inlaid


/ˈɪnˌleɪd; ɪnˈleɪd/
set in the surface, as a design in wood
having such a design or inlay: an inlaid table


verb (transitive) (ɪnˈleɪ) -lays, -laying, -laid
to decorate (an article, esp of furniture, or a surface) by inserting pieces of wood, ivory, etc, into prepared slots in the surface
noun (ˈɪnˌleɪ)
(dentistry) a filling, made of gold, porcelain, etc, inserted into a cavity and held in position by cement
decoration made by inlaying
an inlaid article, surface, etc
Derived Forms
inlayer, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for inlaid

1590s, from in + laid, past participle of lay (v.).


1590s (v.), 1650s (n.), from in + lay. Related: Inlaid.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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inlaid in Medicine

inlay in·lay (ĭn'lā', ĭn-lā')

  1. A solid filling, as of gold or porcelain, fitted to a cavity in a tooth and cemented into place.

  2. A graft of bone, skin, or other tissue.

  3. An orthomechanical device inserted into a shoe.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for inlaid


in the visual arts, any decorative technique used to create an ornamental design, pattern, or scene by inserting or setting into a shallow or depressed ground or surface a material of a different colour or type. Inlay techniques are used in enamelwork, furniture decoration, lacquerwork, and metalwork. Although not strictly inlay, marquetry and boulle work are often included techniques. Veneering is also closely allied.

Learn more about inlay with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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