Which is correct:


''Historically, some 15% of that has been laid waste by poor management practices.

And(I thought):

''Historically, some 15% of that has been laid to waste by poor management practices.

I thought the correct phrasing was laid to waste, then I came across an article using laid waste. Is there really any difference?

  • 4
    They're just subtly different ways of saying the same thing. The first is a (passive) verb, and the second is the past perfect participle acting as an adjective phrase.
    – Andrew
    Oct 3, 2018 at 5:51

1 Answer 1


Lay waste has been an English phrase for a very long time: the OED gives an example from 1535. The OED describes this as involving the adjective "waste", which is reasonably common before a noun ("waste land", "waste water", "waste material"), but rare in other contexts, so it may not be readily recognised as a verbal complement (this is my analysis, not the OED's)

So, to me "laid waste" looks normal, as a set phrase, and "laid to waste" looks like an emendation by somebody who does not have a native experience of English.

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