General English



  • A term used to define the direction of twist of the strands or wires in wire rope. The strands or wires have either a right-hand or left-hand lay.


  • The lateral direction in which a conductor, or group of conductors, is wound around a cable core, or around another layer of conductors. The direction of lay may be left-hand or right-hand. If the conductors form counterclockwise spirals when traveling away from an observer viewing along the longitudinal axis of a cable, then it is left-hand. The converse is true for right-hand. Also called direction of lay.




  • adjective not belonging to a profession or not trained to a professional standard in a subject


  • noun the way in which something is set out
  • noun one of two metal guides for paper in the printing press or folding machine


  • verb to have sex (with). The verb was absorbed into British English gradually during the 1950s and 1960s from the USA, where it had been current since the turn of the 20th century. The term implies sex from the male viewpoint but during the hippy era began to be used by women. The word is a development of the literal sense of to lay someone down and of the euphemistic ‘lie with’, meaning to copulate with, well known from its use in the king James translation of the Bible.

Origin & History of “lay”

English has three words lay. The common verb, ‘cause to lie’ (OE), goes back to the prehistoric Germanic base *lag- ‘put’, a variant of which produced lie. From it was derived *lagjan, whose modern descendants are German legen, Dutch leggen, Swedish lägga, Danish lægge, and English lay. Law comes from the same source, and it is possible that ledge (14th c.) may be an offshoot of lay (which in middle English was legge). Ledger could well be related too.

Lay ‘secular’ (14th c.) comes via Old French lai and Latin lāicus from Greek lāikós, a derivative of lāós ‘the people’. And lay ‘ballad’ (13th c.) comes from Old French lai, a word of unknown origin.