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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Layman \Lay"man\n.; pl. Laymen. [Lay, adj. + man.]

  1. One of the people, in distinction from the clergy; one of the laity; sometimes, a man not belonging to some particular profession, in distinction from those who do.

    Being a layman, I ought not to have concerned myself with speculations which belong to the profession.

  2. A lay figure. See under Lay, n. (above).

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"non-cleric," early 15c., from lay (adj.) + man (n.). Meaning "outsider, non-expert" (especially in regards to law or medicine) is from late 15c. Related: Laymen.


n. 1 layperson, someone who is not an ordained cleric or member of the clergy 2 by analogy, someone who is not a professional in a given field 3 a common person 4 a person who is untrained or lacks knowledge of a subject 5 a generally ignorant person 6 lay-sister or lay-brother, person received into a convent of monks, following the vows, but not being member of the order


n. someone who is not a clergyman or a professional person [syn: layperson] [ant: clergyman]

Layman (surname)

Layman is a surname, and may refer to:

  • Alfred Layman (1858–1940), English cricketer
  • George Layman (1838–1922), Australian legislator
  • Jason Layman (born 1973), American football player
  • John Layman (born 1969), American comic book writer

Usage examples of "layman".

I, an abysmally incompetent layman, with the terrific task before me of finding out how it got there.

If it were a case of agnosia, the patient would now be seeing what he had always seen, that is to say, there would have been no diminution of his visual powers, his brain would simply have been incapable of recognising a chair wherever there happened to be a chair, in other words, he would continue to react correctly to the luminous stimuli leading to the optic nerve, but, to use simple terms within the grasp of the layman, he would have lost the capacity to know what he knew and, moreover, to express it.

I, a mere layman, could make out, Franklin was experimenting with various alkaloids derived from the Calabar bean, Physostigma venenosum.

Worse yet, an obscure and probably heretical tradition of the Dacite Church prevented laymen from speaking aloud during Sabbath services.

He might, for all Myrna or Johnson knew, have enlisted an entire army of grifters, grafters, hucksters and dips, who could communicate in ways even a thousand-year-old layman could not hope to grasp.

Roman law was the best available ideological weapon with which to confront papal hierocratic doctrine, this system became the natural concern of laymen involved in generating an embryonic political theory to refute the claims of papal governmental thought.

Others led little groups of laymen in prayer or hymns of praise to Phos, forming islets of dignity and deep faith in the jollier, more frivolous throng.

Marshall Medical, which contains a blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, otoscope and other basic items, together with a book -- written by a doctor -- describing their use by laymen.

They worked as a team, speaking in half-sentences, using techie jargon unintelligible to the layman.

Being resolved to maintain a national church, yet determined neither to admit Episcopacy nor Presbytery, he established a number of commissioners, under the name of tryers, partly laymen, partly ecclesiastics, some Presbyterians, some Independents.

Then a third, now and then a layman but usually Charlie Iredale, wearing a gold silk tunicle over an alb.

But to the layman who seeks from the Church nothing more than aid in raising himself to God, this worldliness and unveracity do not exist.

Knife, one of the most strident laymen in that somewhat eccentric and quivering and fundamentalist sect, the Antinomian Church.

He was tall, dark, arched eye-browed, the very picture of what the layman thinks a hypnotist should look like.

But, though re-creation demands almost as much vital overplus as creation, the layman should realize that he has, as a rule, far more of this overplus than the pallid, nervous sort of artist.