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lay figure

noun
1.
a jointed model of the human body, usually of wood, from which artists work in the absence of a living model.
2.
a similar figure used in shops to display costumes.
3.
a person of no importance, individuality, distinction, etc.; nonentity.
Origin of lay figure
1785-1795
1785-95; lay, extracted from obsolete layman < Dutch leeman, variant of ledenman, equivalent to leden- (combining form of lid limb, cognate with Old English, Middle English lith) + man man1)
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for lay figure
Historical Examples
  • Then why should he know Murdock, and why should a lay figure be put in Murdock's bed?

    A Master of Mysteries L. T. Meade
  • "You look exactly like a lay figure in a milliner's shop," he remarked.

    To Leeward F. Marion Crawford
  • A flirtation with a lay figure would have been quite as successful.

    The Graysons Edward Eggleston
  • A lay figure on a divan in the corner, emerged wildly from a trail of drapery.

    Ragna Anna Miller Costantini
  • He is a lay figure, but not necessarily a lay figure of speech.

    The Perfect Gentleman Ralph Bergengren
  • He felt for a moment as if he were talking to a sort of lay figure that represented her and could not answer him.

    Cecilia F. Marion Crawford
  • I've used you as a sort of lay figure—when I've told myself stories.

    Tono Bungay H. G. Wells
  • Dick Turpin has been my lay figure for many an English lane.

    Essays of Travel Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Wolff will do for what artists call the 'lay figure,' and I'll put any drapery on him that I fancy.

  • You can hardly have a lay figure of full size, because of its cost.

    The Painter in Oil Daniel Burleigh Parkhurst
British Dictionary definitions for lay figure

lay figure

noun
1.
an artist's jointed dummy, used in place of a live model, esp for studying effects of drapery
2.
a person considered to be subservient or unimportant
Word Origin
C18: from obsolete layman, from Dutch leeman, literally: joint-man
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 Value for lay

6
6
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