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What is the semantic difference between "paid" and "payed?"

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    Do you have a dictionary reference, or do you have a source for where you have read "payed" and "paid"?
    – James K
    Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 5:23

2 Answers 2

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The past form of the verb pay is "paid", unless you are using the very rare homonym "pay = cover with pitch or tar as waterproofing on a boat" (This word has a different origin and is only coincidentally spelt the same as the common verb "pay")

It is very unlikely that you will ever use "I payed the deck with tar". In all common senses the correct spelling is "paid".

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    I may be overly presriptive here. There are examples of "I payed out the rope", and in this context the spelling isn't absolutely wrong. However in that context too, "I paid out the rope" is better accepted. So I have no qualms in recommending that spelling in all circumstances for a learner.
    – James K
    Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 17:24
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"payed" is incorrect. "Paid" is the past tense of "pay".

I don't know why you see such things online, but you shouldn't copy them.

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  • I disagree, "payed" is correct, just rarely used
    – DialFrost
    Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 6:55
  • @DialFrost under what context? I'm a native English speaker and would never consider "payed" to be correct usage. Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 6:58
  • Im a AmE, and I consider this word to be "wrong" as well, but many dictionaries online suggest this is a valid word
    – DialFrost
    Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 6:58
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    Payed has nautical uses: We payed out the rope to lower the anchor. Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 7:37
  • I'm not convinced that that is correct. Perhaps this is a "hanged/hung" distinction, but searches of google books and project Gutenberg show plenty of examples of "paid out the rope" in well edited texts (and a few of "payed", which could be considered a variant) at least it is not required to use "payed" in the context of "... out a rope".
    – James K
    Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 16:56

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