I recently read a book in which many of the characters were advised to lay low because danger lurked and they didn’t want to be found out. This is a commonly used phrase and we all know what it means, but did you know that the correct advice would be to lie low?
I talked about the lowdown on lay and lie in a post a couple years ago, but not specifically about laying low or lying low.
Merriam-Webster says lay low is a transitive verb and that it means “to bring or strike to earth or to knock out of a fight or out of action.”
So the person on the other end of laying low is not exactly staying out of danger, maybe just the opposite!
LawProse offers more explanation and sites some examples from a documentary that got it wrong and a journalist who got it right.
Which way do you say it? If we all know what it means to lay low, should it matter? I like to follow the rules, so I vote for lie low. But maybe saying lay low is more authentic to a character in a book. I don’t know. Leave a comment and tell me what you think.
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