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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English underleyen, from Old English underleċġan (to underlay, prop, support), equivalent to under- +‎ lay. Cognate with Dutch onderleggen (to lay or put under), German unterlegen (to underlay), Swedish underlägga (to underlay).


  • IPA(key): /ʌndəɹˈleɪ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪ



  1. simple past of underlie


underlay (third-person singular simple present underlays, present participle underlaying, simple past and past participle underlaid)

  1. (transitive) To lay (something) underneath something else; to put under.
  2. (transitive) To provide a support for something; to raise or support by something laid under.
    to underlay a cut, plate, or the like, for printing
  3. (transitive) To put a tap on (a shoe).
  4. (mining, transitive, intransitive, of a vein, fault, or lode) To incline from the vertical.
    Synonym: hade

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English underlay, underlei, equivalent to under- +‎ lay.



underlay (plural underlays)

  1. A layer (of earth, etc.) that lies under another; substratum.
  2. A soft floor covering that lies under a carpet.
  3. Anything that is underlaid.
  4. (printing, historical) A piece of paper pasted under woodcuts, stereotype plates, etc. in a form, to bring them up to the necessary level for printing.
  5. (music) Lyrics; or more specifically, the way in which lyrics are assigned to musical notes.
    The underlay in bar 3 is unclear in Handel's manuscript.