The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Lay \Lay\, n.
1. That which lies or is laid or is conceived of as having
been laid or placed in its position; a row; a stratum; a
layer; as, a lay of stone or wood. --Addison.
A viol should have a lay of wire strings below.
Note: The lay of a rope is right-handed or left-handed
according to the hemp or strands are laid up. See
Lay, v. t., 16. The lay of land is its topographical
situation, esp. its slope and its surface features.
2. A wager. "My fortunes against any lay worth naming."
(a) A job, price, or profit. [Prov. Eng.] --Wright.
(b) A share of the proceeds or profits of an enterprise;
as, when a man ships for a whaling voyage, he agrees
for a certain lay. [U. S.]
4. (Textile Manuf.)
(a) A measure of yarn; a lea. See 1st Lea
(b) The lathe of a loom. See Lathe, 3.
5. A plan; a scheme. [Slang] --Dickens.
(a) A jointed model of the human body that may be put in
any attitude; -- used for showing the disposition of
(b) A mere puppet; one who serves the will of others
without independent volition.
Lay race, that part of a lay on which the shuttle travels
in weaving; -- called also shuttle race.
the lay of the land, the general situation or state of
to get the lay of the land, to learn the general situation
or state of affairs, especially in preparation for action.