definition of paying by The Free Dictionary

pay 1


v. paid (pād), pay·ing, pays

1. To give money to in return for goods or services rendered: pay the cashier.

2. To give (money) in exchange for goods or services: paid four dollars for a hamburger; paid an hourly wage.

3. To discharge or settle (a debt or obligation): paying taxes; paid the bill.

4. To bear (a cost or penalty, for example) in recompense: She paid the price for her unpopular opinions.

5. To yield as a return: a savings plan that paid six percent interest.

6. To afford an advantage to; profit: It paid us to be generous.

7. To give or bestow: paying compliments; paying attention.

8. To make (a visit or call).

9. Past tense and past participle paid or payed (pād) To let out (a line or cable) by slackening.


1. To give money in exchange for goods or services.

2. To discharge a debt or obligation.

3. To bear a cost or penalty in recompense: You’ll pay for this mischief!

4. To be profitable or worthwhile: It doesn’t pay to get angry.


1. Of, relating to, giving, or receiving payments.

2. Requiring payment to use or operate: a pay toilet.

3. Yielding valuable metal in mining: a pay streak.


1. The act of paying or state of being paid.

2. Money given in return for work done; salary; wages.


a. Recompense or reward: Your thanks are pay enough.

b. Retribution or punishment.

4. Paid employment: the workers in our pay.

5. A person considered with regard to his or her credit or reliability in discharging debts.

Phrasal Verbs:

pay back

1. To pay or return (what is owed as a debt).

2. To repay (a person who is owed a debt).

3. To give recompense to; reward: How can we ever pay you back for what you’ve done for us?

4. To reciprocate; return: pay back a kindness.

5. To retaliate against or get revenge upon.

pay down

To reduce (a debt) through payment.

pay off

1. To pay the full amount on (a debt).

2. To result in profit or advantage; succeed: Your efforts will eventually pay off.

3. To pay the wages due to (an employee) upon discharge.

4. To pay (a plaintiff) to settle a lawsuit out of court.

5. To bribe.

6. Nautical To turn or cause to turn (a vessel) to leeward.

pay out

1. To give (money) out; spend.

2. To let out (a line or rope) by slackening.

pay up

To give over the full monetary amount demanded.


pay (one’s) dues

To earn a given right or position through hard work, long-term experience, or suffering: She paid her dues in small-town theaters before being cast in a Broadway play.

pay (one’s) way

To contribute one’s own share; pay for oneself.

pay the piper

To bear the consequences of something.

pay through the nose Informal

To pay excessively.

[Middle English paien, from Old French paiier, from Late Latin pācāre, to appease, from Latin, to pacify, subdue, from pāx, pāc-, peace; see pag- in Indo-European roots.]

pay 2


tr.v. payed or paid (pād), pay·ing, pays

To coat or cover (seams of a ship, for example) with waterproof material such as tar or asphalt.

[Obsolete French peier, from Old French, from Latin picāre, from pix, pic-, pitch.]

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.




giving money (in exchange for goods, services, etc)

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

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