3 [ley]
belonging to, pertaining to, or performed by the people or laity, as distinguished from the clergy: a lay sermon.
not belonging to, connected with, or proceeding from a profession, especially the law or medicine.

1300–50; Middle English < Middle French lai < Medieval Latin lāicus laic Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
lay1 (leɪ)
vb , lays, laying, laid
1.  to put in a low or horizontal position; cause to lie: to lay a cover on a bed
2.  to place, put, or be in a particular state or position: he laid his finger on his lips
3.  not standard (intr) to be in a horizontal position; lie: he often lays in bed all the morning
4.  (sometimes foll by down) to establish as a basis: to lay a foundation for discussion
5.  to place or dispose in the proper position: to lay a carpet
6.  to arrange (a table) for eating a meal
7.  to prepare (a fire) for lighting by arranging fuel in the grate
8.  (also intr) (of birds, esp the domestic hen) to produce (eggs)
9.  to present or put forward: he laid his case before the magistrate
10.  to impute or attribute: all the blame was laid on him
11.  to arrange, devise, or prepare: to lay a trap
12.  to place, set, or locate: the scene is laid in London
13.  to apply on or as if on a surface: to lay a coat of paint
14.  to impose as a penalty or burden: to lay a fine
15.  to make (a bet) with (someone): I lay you five to one on Prince
16.  to cause to settle: to lay the dust
17.  to allay; suppress: to lay a rumour
18.  to bring down forcefully: to lay a whip on someone's back
19.  slang to have sexual intercourse with
20.  slang to bet on (a horse) to lose a race
21.  to press down or make smooth: to lay the nap of cloth
22.  to cut (small trunks or branches of shrubs or trees) halfway through and bend them diagonally to form a hedge: to lay a hedge
23.  to arrange and twist together (strands) in order to form (a rope, cable, etc)
24.  military to apply settings of elevation and training to (a weapon) prior to firing
25.  (foll by on) hunting to put (hounds or other dogs) onto a scent
26.  another word for inlay
27.  dialect, informal or (intr; often foll by to or out) to plan, scheme, or devise
28.  (intr) nautical to move or go, esp into a specified position or direction: to lay close to the wind
29.  nautical lay aboard (formerly) to move alongside a warship to board it
30.  lay a course
 a.  nautical to sail on a planned course without tacking
 b.  to plan an action
31.  lay bare to reveal or explain: he laid bare his plans
32.  lay hands on See hands
33.  lay hold of to seize or grasp
34.  lay oneself open to make oneself vulnerable (to criticism, attack, etc): by making such a statement he laid himself open to accusations of favouritism
35.  lay open to reveal or disclose
36.  lay siege to to besiege (a city, etc)
37.  the manner or position in which something lies or is placed
38.  taboo, slang
 a.  an act of sexual intercourse
 b.  a sexual partner
39.  a portion of the catch or the profits from a whaling or fishing expedition
40.  the amount or direction of hoist in the strands of a rope
usage  In careful English, the verb lay is used with an object and lie without one: the soldier laid down his arms; the Queen laid a wreath; the book was lying on the table; he was lying on the floor. In informal English, lay is frequently used for lie: the book was laying on the table. All careful writers and speakers observe the distinction even in informal contexts

lay2 (leɪ)
the past tense of lie

lay3 (leɪ)
1.  of, involving, or belonging to people who are not clergy
2.  nonprofessional or nonspecialist; amateur
[C14: from Old French lai, from Late Latin lāicus, ultimately from Greek laos people]

lay4 (leɪ)
1.  a ballad or short narrative poem, esp one intended to be sung
2.  a song or melody
[C13: from Old French lai, perhaps of Germanic origin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. lecgan "to place on the ground (or other surface)," also "put down (often by striking)," from P.Gmc. *lagjanan (cf. O.S. leggian, O.N. leggja, O.Fris. ledza, M.Du. legghan, Du. leggen, O.H.G. lecken, Ger. legen, Goth. lagjan "to lay, put, place"), causative of lie (v.2).
Meaning "way in which something is laid" (lay of the land) first recorded 1819. Meaning "have sex with" first recorded 1934, in U.S. slang, from sense of "deposit" (which was in O.E., as in lay an egg, lay a bet, etc.), perhaps reinforced by to lie with, a frequent phrase in the Bible. The noun meaning "woman available for sexual intercourse" is attested from 1930, but there are suggestions of it in stage puns from as far back as 1767. Lay off "dismiss" (an employee) is from 1868; meaning "stop disturbing" is from 1908. To lay for (someone) "await a chance at revenge" is from 1494; lay low "stay inconspicuous" is from 1839. To lay (someone) low preserves the secondary O.E. sense.

early 14c., from O.Fr. lai "secular, not of the clergy" (Fr. laïque), from L.L. laicus, from Gk. laikos "of the people," from laos "people," of unknown origin. In M.E., contrasted with learned, a sense revived 1810 for "non-expert."

"short song," c.1240, from O.Fr. lai "song, lyric," of unknown origin, perhaps from Celt. (cf. Ir. laid "song, poem," Gael. laoidh "poem, verse, play") since the earliest verses so called were Arthurian ballads, but another theory traces it to a Gmc. source, cf. O.H.G. leich "play, melody, song."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

lie (lī)
The manner or position in which something is situated, especially the relation that the long axis of a fetus bears to that of its mother.

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