Basic+ Word of the Day: lie

lie (verb, noun) past tense: lied, lay LISTEN

If you lie, it means that you say something that isn’t true.

  • I lied about my age because I wanted the job.

A lie is something you say that isn’t true.

  • We don't believe him because he always tells lies.

If someone lies somewhere (or lies down), it means that they are in a position with their head at the same level as their feet–for example, because they are sleeping.

  • You can lie down on the bed if you feel tired.

If something lies somewhere, it means that it is in that place.

  • Your socks are lying on the floor.

Common uses

When we sleep or stay in bed for longer than usual, in the UK we can say that we are having a lie-in. For example, “I’m having a lie-in tomorrow because it’s Sunday.” In the US we say that we sleep in. “I sleep in on Saturdays.”

Watch out for

When we are talking about the past, meaning 1 of lie and meanings 3 and 4 of lie change in different ways. For example, we can say, “I lied to you last night” (meaning 1), but we say, “I lay in bed all day yesterday” (meaning 3).

In pop culture

A lie detector test is used to see if people are lying. There is a famous scene in the movie Meet the Parents when Robert De Niro, the father of Ben Stiller’s fiancée, makes him do a lie detector test. He starts with an easy question, “Did you fly on an airplane today” to see if he is lying with the final question.

There are other meanings of lie.

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