the lie of the land(redirected from Lie of the Land)
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the lie of the land
1. Literally, the physical topography of a particular location or area. Primarily heard in UK. See if there's a path to higher ground so we can see the lie of the land.
2. By extension, the particular state, arrangement, or condition of something; the way a situation exists or has developed. Primarily heard in UK. Given the turbulent nature of this market, I think it would be prudent to understand the lie of the land before we agree to invest. I'm thinking about studying business, but I want to visit a few colleges first and check out the lie of the land.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
the ˌlie of the ˈland(British English) (American English the ˌlay of the ˈland)
1 the way the land in an area is formed and what physical characteristics it has
2 the way a situation is now and how it is likely to develop: Check out the lie of the land before you make a decision.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
lay/lie of the land, the
The general state of affairs. This term, which in Britain is always put as the lie of the land, originated in the seventeenth century and alluded to surveying. An early appearance in print is in A New Dictionary of the Canting Crew (ca. 1700): “How lies the land? How stands the reckoning?” In the twentieth century it came to be used figuratively for any investigation of conditions, without reference to real estate. Thus E. H. Gombrich wrote (The Story of Art, 1950), “To show the newcomer the lie of the land without confusing him.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer