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[verb in-ley, in-ley; noun in-ley] /verb ˈɪnˌleɪ, ˌɪnˈleɪ; noun 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.
Origin of inlay
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 inlay
Historical Examples
  • The best method, however, of imitating the yellowish tone of old paper is to stain the inlay with potassium permanganate.

  • This is actually done with the working drawing by the inlay cutter.

    Line and Form (1900) Walter Crane
  • Fragments of shells are found as inlay on a wooden artifact ; for a description see the section on “Wooden Artifacts.”

  • With illustrations in colors, and inlay cover by George Wright.

    Fair Margaret Francis Marion Crawford
  • For the process of inlay and incrustation, the splendid Eastern pearl called gold fish is used.

    History of the Fan George Woolliscroft Rhead
  • This will make a groove into which the edge of the inlay will disappear.

    The Decoration of Leather Georges de Rcy
  • With illustrations and inlay cover picture by Harrison Fisher.

  • The inlay is also pasted and the edges inserted in the incision.

    The Decoration of Leather Georges de Rcy
  • Further, they often patch together pieces of this kind of inlay.

    Art in Needlework Lewis F. Day
  • We may admire the dexterity of the inlay but deplore the design.

    Chats on Old Clocks Arthur Hayden
British Dictionary definitions for inlay


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 inlay

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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inlay 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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