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1 definition found
 for the lay of the land
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Lay \Lay\, n.
     1. That which lies or is laid or is conceived of as having
        been laid or placed in its position; a row; a stratum; a
        layer; as, a lay of stone or wood. --Addison.
        [1913 Webster]
  
              A viol should have a lay of wire strings below.
                                                    --Bacon.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     Note: The lay of a rope is right-handed or left-handed
           according to the hemp or strands are laid up. See
           Lay, v. t., 16. The lay of land is its topographical
           situation, esp. its slope and its surface features.
           [1913 Webster]
  
     2. A wager. "My fortunes against any lay worth naming."
        [1913 Webster]
  
     3.
        (a) A job, price, or profit. [Prov. Eng.] --Wright.
        (b) A share of the proceeds or profits of an enterprise;
            as, when a man ships for a whaling voyage, he agrees
            for a certain lay. [U. S.]
            [1913 Webster]
  
     4. (Textile Manuf.)
        (a) A measure of yarn; a lea. See 1st Lea
        (a) .
        (b) The lathe of a loom. See Lathe, 3.
            [1913 Webster]
  
     5. A plan; a scheme. [Slang] --Dickens.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     Lay figure.
        (a) A jointed model of the human body that may be put in
            any attitude; -- used for showing the disposition of
            drapery, etc.
        (b) A mere puppet; one who serves the will of others
            without independent volition.
  
     Lay race, that part of a lay on which the shuttle travels
        in weaving; -- called also shuttle race.
  
     the lay of the land, the general situation or state of
        affairs.
  
     to get the lay of the land, to learn the general situation
        or state of affairs, especially in preparation for action.
        [1913 Webster]

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