Mark is a laid back person.


Mark is a lay back person.

i mean them to describe someone who is not proactive and who doesn't care enough, in a critical sense.

I googled both terms and the numbers of result of are both large. So, conventionally, are both terms acceptable in most contexts? Or do they basically mean different things in itself?

By the way, when I say a "large" number of results, I'm talking about millions of hits for lay back person.

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    A dictionary search will answer this question. Use laid back when the expression functions as an adjective (as in your examples). However, lay back can be used as a verb (as in, "Let's just lay back and chill for awhile"). – J.R. Nov 12 '13 at 10:09
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    I am just amazed that lay back person has that kind of number of results(217,000,000), and they are all wrong. – user49119 Nov 12 '13 at 13:43
  • That is a very interesting link indeed. I've reopened the question, as I believe the link adds a new dimension to this question. – J.R. Nov 12 '13 at 17:40
  • Well, I looked at several of those links, and they all have numerous grammar errors. Like, "... i love out door ... nothing to extreme." "Want children? No matters." Interestingly, the first couple of pages of hits all seem to be from dating websites. A theory: dating websites may attract a lot of posts by people who do not otherwise do a lot of writing, and so do not have high grammar skills. – Jay Nov 12 '13 at 20:53
  • @Jay: Or maybe they copy from some badly-worded suggestions that are published somewhere? Who knows for sure... – J.R. Nov 13 '13 at 10:46

Dittos to JR.

This borders on a comment as opposed to an answer, but "laid back" does not mean "not proactive and doesn't care enough", at least not in the negative sense that you appear to be thinking. Rather, it means "not easily excited or upset".

To an American, at least, saying someone is "laid back" is not a negative statement. Well, except in the sense that any statement about a person could be made negative by explicitly saying that the person does it too much or in inappropriate contexts. Like, yes, you could say, "Bob is just too laid back for this job". But you could also say, "Bob is too nice" or "Bob tries too hard to be fair", etc.

You seem to be thinking more of "passive", "apathetic", "uncaring", maybe "lazy".

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    Well-said. Indeed, "too" can be put in front of many positive attributes to make a negative statement. Also, an antonym for "laid back" would be "stressed out;" I'd generally prefer the former over the latter in one of my employees. – J.R. Nov 13 '13 at 20:40

One thing to be careful about when using Google to check proper wording is that the search engine scours blogs, personal ads, message boards that are not proofread, edited, or carefully written. This is why I often recommend doing a search on Google books before drawing any conclusions.

Google books finds only four hits for lay back person, but five or six pages of results for laid-back person. The results are similar for lay back guy vs. laid back guy.

I'm surprised there are any hits at all, but there are a few in books, and many on the web, so you're not the only one tripped up by this eggcorn.

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    There remains the fact that neither version carries the negative connotation desired by OP. – Tyler James Young Nov 12 '13 at 18:29
  • Also, Google search doesn't tell you how many results it finds. It makes up an estimate, which may or may not be wildly off the mark. This makes it particularly unreliable for this sort of query. – snailplane Nov 12 '13 at 19:05
  • To echo what @snailboat says, I've seen plenty of Google searches with "millions" of results stop rather abruptly on Page 3. In this case, though, there were more than 20 pages of results, which surprised me at first, but, upon further review, most of them didn't seem like good sources for learning English, such as this one: "im a lay back person dat loves meetin new people and hangin out wit my friends" – J.R. Nov 12 '13 at 20:34
  • @TylerJamesYoung Do you mean the negative connotation isn't really inherited in the term, but rather implied around corresponding context? because when the term is used in business setting, it is apparent it is to point out the bad side(lacking proactivity) rather than the good side(chill and relaxed). – user49119 Nov 13 '13 at 3:29
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    @user49119 Context conquers all, but there might be a word that fits better for a particular situation or message. You might consider "lax" instead, for example. "Lax in his duties" is a fairly common phrase to indicate an insufficient level of attention paid to tasks or an irresponsible lack of discipline. – Tyler James Young Nov 13 '13 at 19:48

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