Lay Low or Lie Low
If you were in prison, you’d want to lay low and not draw too much attention to yourself lest you get shanked by the other inmates or lie low and not risk getting caught by your correctional officer.
Suppose your friend did something terrible by accident. In that case, they’d probably tell you to lay low and stay out of sight until things die down or lie low and pretend that the whole thing never happened in the first place so no one would get mad at them.
The history of the words
The words lay low and lie down are often used interchangeably, but they have different connotations. For example, the word lie down can mean reclining, sleeping, or resting.
The word lay low means to lay oneself flat on the ground to hide from an intruder. For example, if a hunter wanted to sneak up on a deer, he would lay himself low in a field of tall grass so that the deer would not see him coming.
If someone is trying to stay hidden, they should lie low instead of laying themselves down because it is less likely that someone will walk over them if they are lying on the ground rather than sitting upright like when you’re laying yourself down.
Both words are used to describe hiding. Lay low is often used in the phrase lie, lay, and lay low, which means to keep your head down and avoid drawing attention to oneself.
Lie low is often used as a verb to stay out of sight. It can also be used as an adjective meaning low-key. For example, if someone describes themselves as laid back, it would mean that they are calm and relaxed.
The word comes from being reclined on one’s back, giving rise to its metaphorical use for describing someone relaxed about something.
The word lie is a verb and means to recline. The word lay is a verb that means to place. However, people have used these words interchangeably in the past few centuries.
- For example, you could say I’m going to lay down on the couch, or I’m going to lie down on the couch.
In addition, when used as a transitive verb (meaning it takes an object), one can say I’ll just put this here while meaning ‘I’ll just put this here.’ The choice of which word to use comes with cultural background.
Lying is often associated with laziness, while laying usually has no such connotation; instead, laying something down usually means giving up possession of it.
In British English, there are more instances where lie is used rather than lay; in American English, there are more instances where lay is used rather than lie. Mixing up these two words is easy because they sound so similar.
A real story example of “lay low” or “lie low” confusing.
Both phrases may be correct depending on the tense you use. For example, in the present tense, use lie low; in the past tense, use lay low.
- For example, the celebrity keeps a low profile for a few weeks to avoid news reporters.
- For example, the same celebrity avoided the paparazzi last month.
- For example, he has been dormant for nearly a year.
The base verb here is, of course, lie, conjugated lie-lay-lain, not the transitive lay, frequently misused in phrases like lie down and lie low.
Michael J. Young of Florence, South Carolina, brought two interesting examples to our attention. First, he pointed out that an Associated Press writer misreported the arrest of the “wealthy, eccentric” Robert Durst following an HBO documentary about his life and alleged connection to three murders.
Durst was arrested in a New Orleans hotel “where he had been laying low,” according to the reporters. Read while lying down. On the same day, Reuters reported correctly on Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the reporter, Putin was dismissive of rumors that he was in poor health and needed to “lie low” for a while.
It always depends Depends on your tenses.
You’re referring to hiding out using the idiomatic phrasal verb lie low (intransitive, informal).
- Future: “I’m going to lay low until the police stop searching for me.”
- Present: “I’m laying low because the police are searching for me.”
- Past: “I lay low when the police were looking for me yesterday.”
The difference between lay and lie
Lay is a transitive verb that means to place something down. Lie, on the other hand, is an intransitive verb and means to recline or rest.
The past tense of lay is laid. Of course, you can also say lie if you’re using it as an intransitive verb, but this phrase would not make sense in a sentence without the context of resting.
Both words can be used as nouns with different meanings. The only thing these two words have in common is that they are homophones – meaning they sound alike but are spelled differently.
If you are puzzled by their difference, always think about which word best fits the meaning.
- 1) Try to lay low, but remember to get some rest too.
- 2) I’ve been laying around so much lately; I’m going to need a vacation soon!
- 3) I’ll take care of these packages while you just lay there doing nothing!
- 4) Just because my laptop has all its updates installed doesn’t mean it should stop working after every new software installation- now I know why my battery always dies
When to use each word
It’s hard to say which word is more appropriate. The words are interchangeable, but they do have different connotations.
If you want to go with the word lie low, it may be because you want to lay low for a while and then come out of hiding.
It could also mean you’re trying to avoid trouble by playing it cool and avoiding unnecessary contact with other people.
- 1. Lay Low means avoiding confrontation and staying out of the way.
- 2. Lie Low means to hide and stay out of sight.
- 3. Lay low is a more passive approach, while lying low is more aggressive when hiding from danger or staying out of the limelight.
- 4. You would want to lay low in an unsafe area where you are being threatened.
- 5. A person would lie low if they were being chased by someone who wanted to harm them, and they knew their only chance for survival was to stay hidden from their pursuer(s).
Lie is a verb that means to rest, recline, or stay in place. The lie is also the past tense of lay.
Lay can be a verb that means to set down, place, or put something somewhere. It can also be the past tense of a lie. To make matters more confusing, lay is sometimes used as a synonym for tell and as an intransitive verb meaning to come into contact with.
Regional dialects and personal preferences sometimes dictate the choice between these two words. However, there are some cases when one word is more appropriate than the other.
For example, you should use a lie when describing your actions: I was lying on the couch all day. Also, it would help if you used to lay when describing someone else’s actions: My son laid his toys on my desk before coming home from school today.
I have to lay this dress out tonight, so it doesn’t wrinkle. I had been laying bricks all afternoon, but it was time to go home. He starts talking about our relationship woes again when he lays eyes on me.
Examples of each word in a sentence
The two words both mean the same thing, but one is more formal than the other. So when you want to come off as professional and polite, it’s best to choose to lie overlay.
- For example:
- Please don’t disturb me for a few hours; I’m going to lie down for a nap.
- I’m sorry, but I will have to lay low for a few days because of my illness. It would help if you also tried laying low during your pregnancy. If we lay low now, they’ll think we are gone for good!
Nothing was left in his wallet, so he had to lie on the ground. He tried lying low by turning off his phone and staying home until all of this blew over.
Which one is correct?
Both phrases may be accurate, depending on the tense used. For example, use lay low in the past tense and; lie low in the present.
- Ex.: The celebrity stays out of the public eye for a few weeks to avoid reporters.
To lay is a transitive verb requiring an object (such as an egg). Low could be substituted for any prepositional phrase, such as in the straw.
- Future: “The hen will lay a small egg.”
- Present: “The hen is laying a single egg.”
- Past tense: “The hen had laid a low egg.”
It’s easy to think that you can lay low and everything will disappear. The problem is that things don’t go away; they worsen over time.
Lying low won’t work either because what you’re doing may not be illegal, but it will still cause problems if people find out about it. The best thing to do is take responsibility for what you’ve done wrong, make amends, and then move on with your life.
Which is correct laying or lying?
While lying down, you also place something. A direct object is not necessary for lie. A direct object is needed for lay. Laying and lying (not lying; watch your spelling!) are both subject to the same rules.
What does lying around mean?
: to lazily spend time relaxing. She did nothing but lounge around all day. By the pool, my pals and I were relaxing.
Is it lay down or lie down in bed?
Although you lay down, you also lay something down. There is no need for a direct object with lie. Lay needs an immediate object. The same principle holds true for both laying and lying (not lying; watch your spelling).
What is difference between lie and lay?
“To put or set (something) down” is the conventional definition of the verb “lay.” We’ll concentrate on the first definition of the word lie, which is typically defined as “to be in or to adopt a horizontal position” (or “to make an incorrect assertion”). In other words, lying does not take a direct object but lay does.