General English

  • noun the money you receive for working
  • verb to give someone money for something
  • verb to give money to someone for doing something


  • noun a salary or wages, money given to someone for regular work
  • verb to give money to buy an item or a service
  • verb to produce or distribute money
  • verb to give an employee money for work done
  • verb to give money which is owed or which has to be paid

Information & Library Science

  • verb to give somebody money in exchange for goods or services


  • noun a salary, wage, or money given to someone for work done


  • noun the money which a person receives for doing their job


  • verb to give somebody money for work done

Origin & History of “pay”

Etymologically, to pay someone is to ‘quieten them down by giving them the money they are owed’. For the word is closely related to English peace. It comes via Old French payer from Latin pācāre ‘pacify’, a derivative of pāx ‘peace’. The notion of the irate creditor needing to be appeased by payment led to the verb being used in medieval Latin for ‘pay’. The original sense ‘pacify, please’ actually survived into English (‘Well he weened with this tiding for to pay David the king’, Cursor Mundi 1300), but by the beginning of the 16th century it had virtually died out, leaving ‘give money’ in sole possession.