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From Middle English layman, lay man, equivalent to lay (non-clergy) +‎ man. Cognate with Old Frisian lēkmann, lēkmonn (layman), obsolete Dutch leekeman (layman), Old High German leihman (layman), Danish lægmand (layman), Swedish lekman (layman), Norwegian lekmann (layman), Icelandic leikmaður (layman).


  • IPA(key): /ˈleɪmən/
  • Audio (US):(file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪmən



layman (plural laymen)

  1. Layperson, someone who is not an ordained cleric or member of the clergy.
  2. (by extension) Someone who is not a professional in a given field.
    Carmen is not a professional anthropologist, but strictly a layman.
    Let me explain it to you in layman's terms.
  3. A common person.
  4. A person who is untrained or lacks knowledge of a subject.
    • 2005, Plato, translated by Lesley Brown, Sophist, page 221d:
      should he be held to be just a layman, or does he have some art?
  5. Lay-sister or lay-brother, person received into a convent of monks, following the vows, but not being member of the order.


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