lay by, 1 : to lay aside : discard, 2 : to store for future use : save, 3 : to cultivate (as corn) for the last time (Merriam Webster)

Considering that Merriam Webster's definition of "lay-by" as a verb is the above, can we say, for example, "I'll lay-by it for Christmas"?

I'm asking because it is not difficult to find "lay-by" used in reference to buy goods, albeit there are no referenced sites that I can show; rather it seems a colloquialism.

  • 1
    "I'll lay-by it for Christmas" would be incorrect. It would be "I'll lay it by for Christmas" or "I'll put it aside for Christmas."
    – TrevorD
    May 12, 2013 at 0:12

1 Answer 1


Some retailers may have what's called a "layaway" plan for people who want to buy something before they have enough cash to pay for it. When I was a kid, this was very popular. That was before credit cards and easy credit. In Taiwan, most retailers will sell you an item and give it to you if you sign a contract to pay it off in 3 or 6 or 12 months. Nobody wants to wait for things these days.

The Macmillan Dictionary (British English edition) says that lay-by is the Australian term for the American term layaway.

  • 3
    +1 Googling 'lay by sales' yields many hits which reveal, inter alia, that 1) in Australia and New Zealand it is a legal term, not a colloquialism, and 2) it is in fact the equivalent of US layaway: the seller holds on to the goods sold until payment is complete. May 11, 2013 at 11:34
  • UK usage would be lay by, but I don't think that the expression is now in common usage. You could also say put by.
    – TrevorD
    May 12, 2013 at 0:09

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