the lay of the land


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Related to the lay of the land: the lie of the land

the lay of the land

1. Literally, the physical topography of a particular location or area. See if there's a path to higher ground so that we may view the lay of the land.
2. By extension, the particular state, arrangement, or condition of something; the way a situation exists or has developed. Given the turbulent nature of this market, I think it would be prudent to understand the lay 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 lay of the land.
See also: land, lay, of

lay of the land

 
1. Lit. the arrangement of features on an area of land. (Also with lie, especially British English.) The surveyor mapped the lay of the land. The geologist studied the lay of the land, trying to determine if there was oil below.
2. Fig. the arrangement or organization of something other than land. As soon as I get the lay of the land in my new job, things will go better. The company's corporate structure was complex, so understanding the lay of the land took time.
See also: land, lay, of

lay of the land, the

The nature, arrangement, or disposition of something, the general state of affairs, as in Once we know the lay of the land, we can plan our advertising campaign. A related expression is how the land lies, as in Let's be cautious till we know how the land lies. This usage originated in Britain about 1700 as the lie of the land and is still so used there.
See also: lay, of

the lay of the land

or

the lie of the land

The lay of the land or the lie of the land, is the basic facts of a situation. With the legal lay of the land unclear, many company executives decided not to talk directly to shareholders. I thought it would be better to ring first and see how things were. Check the lie of the land.
See also: land, lay, of

lay of the land

The nature, arrangement, or disposition of something.
See also: land, lay, of
References in periodicals archive ?
1 Note the lay of the land in your yard and the basic drainage pattern.
"The lay of the land is shifting," says Stuart Rothenberg, a Washington political analyst.
Besides familiarizing themselves with the lay of the land, the Russians will confer with Japanese officials to obtain details about local conditions, security and activities that will help in planning for the April 11-13 summit.
In addition to the animals' amenability, the lay of the land lends itself to research into animal behavior.
Kolodny used her politicized feminist perspective to write of her outrage for the ravaged American environment in The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters (1975) and The Land Before Her: Fantasy and Experience of the American Frontiers, 1630-1860 (1984).
A local joint venture partner knows the lay of the land and provides an entree into the internal network of contacts in Russia and the other former republics.
A newspaper clipping from a 1938 interview with James reads: "Many were the nights when he and Capt Francis Buckley used to crawl beyond the lines and sketch the lay of the land.
It is safe to say that we know the battlefield and we know the lay of the land; and so, what the reforms are will be in response to the lay of the land," he told reporters in a briefing.
The document showed the lay of the land in the county before Cavaliers and Roundheads tramped their way over the countryside during the English Civil War.
"Maybe it's time to speak to him and his people to see what the lay of the land is."