Open main menu



From Middle English leyen doun, leien doun (to lay down), equivalent to lay +‎ down.


lay down (third-person singular simple present lays down, present participle laying down, simple past and past participle laid down)

  1. (transitive) To give up, surrender, or yield (e.g. a weapon), usually by placing it on the ground.
    The police urged the gunman to lay down his weapon.
    Lay down your arms.
  2. (transitive) To intentionally take a fall while riding a motorcycle, in order to prevent a more serious collision.
    He laid down his brand-new Harley-Davidson to avoid the oncoming bus.
  3. (transitive) To specify, institute, enact, assert firmly, state authoritatively, establish or formulate (rules or policies).
    Let's lay down the rules right at the beginning, so we are consistent.
    You've got to lay down the law with that boy.
    • William Morris
      Well, I lay it down, first, that a book quite unornamented can look actually and positively beautiful, and not merely un-ugly, if it be, so to say, architecturally good, which, by the by, need not add much to its price []
    • 2016 February 20, “Obituary: Antonin Scalia: Always right”, in The Economist:
      The law was written in words, and those ideally laid down bright lines for everyone to follow
  4. To stock, store (e.g. wine) for the future. See also lay by.
  5. (euphemistic, transitive) To euthanize an animal.
  6. To sacrifice, especially in the phrase "to lay down one's life."
  7. (intransitive, nonstandard, proscribed) To lie down; to place oneself in a reclined or horizontal position, on a bed or similar, for the purpose of resting.
    I feel a bit ill, so I'm going to go lay down for a while.
  8. (nautical, dated) To draw the lines of a ship's hull at full size, before starting a build.

Derived termsEdit



lay down

  1. simple past tense of lie down
    He lay down in his bed until he felt better.