Collocations With The Word Lay

Collocations are words that usually go together in English.

Here we are going to look at words that go with 'lay' to make useful and popular expressions you will hear in social and professional contexts.

Lay down the law/rules

When you 'lay down the law' or 'lay down the rules', you officially or forcefully state what somebody must do or how they must behave. It is often given in the form of an order or directive from somebody in authority.


  • The teacher laid down the law to her students by making it clear that further misbehaviour would be punished.
  • Before we begin practice, let me first lay down the rules that I want everybody to stick to.
  • John is not in a position of authority in this company. He has no business going round laying down the law to people. Who does he think he is?

Lay claim to

If you 'lay claim to' something, you assert that something belongs to you or that you deserve it.


  • If, by the end of the day, nobody has laid claim to that £20 note I found, then I'm keeping it!
  • I believe that I can lay claim to having the best sales record in the company.
  • There seems to be a dispute over who actually owns the land. At least three people are currently laying claim to it

Lay over

A 'lay over' can be used to refer to delaying or postponing something, or a stop somewhere on a journey. In the latter usage, the phrase is usually written as 'layover', and is used in relation to air travel. 


  • I'm flying from New York to Dubai with a 2 hour layover in London along the way.
  • There's no need to stay late at the office tonight to finish this work. We can lay some of it over until tomorrow.
  • We were laid over in Oslo for 8 hours while they tried to fix the plane.

Lay something out

To 'lay something out' means to explain something clearly and carefully. A noun or pronoun can be used between 'lay' and 'out.' 


  • I arranged a meeting with my boss so that I could lay out my proposal to her.
  • Our code of conduct lays out exactly how we expect our staff to behave while employed by this company.
  • Jane laid her plan out for the Board, and they seemed hugely impressed by it. It will almost certainly be given the green light. 

Lay gently

To 'lay gently' means to put or set something or somebody down in a careful, respectful manner. Other collocations with 'lay' in this context include 'lay carefully' and 'lay neatly'.


  • I laid the keys down on the table gently so that I didn't damage the glass surface.
  • Please lay the baby down carefully when you put her into her cot.
  • I want to see you laying your clothes neatly in your cupboard rather than just throwing them in!

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