How to understand lay some way out. The following is a piece of excerpt from Treasure Island

The Hispaniola lay some way out, and we went under the figureheads and around the sterns of many other ships and their cables sometimes grated underneath our keel, and sometimes swung above us.

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    @P.E.Dant The thing is about the meaning not grammar structure. – Kris Jul 4 '17 at 6:26
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    The verb form lay here is the simple past of the English verb to lie. What English language dictionary do you use in your study of English? What does that English language dictionary tell you about the English verb "to lie"? The phrase some way out is an adverbial that modifies the verb, and means moderately distant. – P. E. Dant Jul 4 '17 at 6:32
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    @P.E.Dant To lie is polysemy. I’m not sure which meaning is used here. – Kris Jul 4 '17 at 6:36
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    "Lay some way out" is not a "set phrase" in English. You are unlikely to find it defined as a phrase in any dictionary. What you should do instead is to learn about the many meanings of the English verb "to lie". Yes, to lie has many meanings. Which one might apply to a sailing ship like the Hispañola? Can a sailing ship tell an untruth? – P. E. Dant Jul 4 '17 at 6:49
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    @userr2684291 how to understand out here – Kris Jul 4 '17 at 10:23

Let's start with this:

Usage note Lay and lie are often confused. Lay is most commonly a transitive verb and takes an object. Its forms are regular. If “place” or “put” can be substituted in a sentence, a form of lay is called for: Lay the folders on the desk. The mason is laying brick. She laid the baby in the crib. Lay also has many intransitive senses, among them “to lay eggs” ( The hens have stopped laying), and it forms many phrasal verbs, such as lay off “to dismiss (from employment)” or “to stop annoying or teasing” and lay over “to make a stop.”

Lie, with the overall senses “to be in a horizontal position, recline” and “to rest, remain, be situated, etc.,” is intransitive and takes no object. Its forms are irregular; its past tense form is identical with the present tense or infinitive form of lay: Lie down, children. Abandoned cars were lying along the road. The dog lay in the shade and watched the kittens play. The folders have lain on the desk since yesterday.

In all but the most careful, formal speech, forms of lay are commonly heard in senses normally associated with lie. In edited written English such uses of lay are rare and are usually considered nonstandard: Lay down, children. The dog laid in the shade. Abandoned cars were laying along the road. The folders have laid on the desk since yesterday.

I wanted to highlight all the confusion that exists between definitions of lay and definitions of lie. Lay can be a tense of lie but lay can also be its own verb. In this case, lay is being used as a transitive verb and takes an object and the object is the phrase out. One could also describe that phrase as out [there] where [there] is understood. A definition of lay is:

to place, set, or locate: The scene is laid in France.

It is also important to note that lay is a common word in nautical usage and the definition of lay for nautical usage is also relevant

Nautical. to move or turn (a sailing vessel) into a certain position or direction.

In this case, the Hispaniola is both sitting some way out and also there is a need to lay a course to the Hispaniola. The use of the word lay is intended to invoke both connotations at once. The word lay is also intended to invoke common language of seamen, so as these nautical words come up in the narration the reader has a feeling of being there, in the boat, with sailors speaking language of the sea.

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