pay1 / pā/ • v. (past paid) 1. [tr.] give (someone) money that is due for work done, goods received, or a debt incurred: [tr.] he paid the locals to pick his coffee beans | [intr.] TV licenses can be paid for by direct debit. ∎ give (a sum of money) in exchange for goods or work done or in discharge of a debt: he paid $1,000 to have it built in 1977 | a museum paid him a four-figure sum for it. ∎ hand over or transfer the amount due of (a debt, wages, etc.) to someone: bonuses were paid to savers whose policies completed their full term. ∎ (of work, an investment, etc.) yield or provide someone with (a specified sum of money): jobs that pay $5 or $6 an hour. ∎ [intr.] (of a business or undertaking, or an attitude) be profitable or advantageous to someone: crime doesn't pay | it pays to choose varieties carefully. 2. [intr.] suffer a loss or other misfortune as a consequence of an action: the destroyer responsible for these atrocities would have to pay with his life. ∎ [tr.] give what is due or deserved to (someone); reward or punish.3. give or bestow (attention, respect, or a compliment) on (someone): no one paid them any attention. ∎ make (a visit or a call) to (someone): she has been prevailed upon to pay us a visit.• n. the money paid to someone for regular work: those working on contract may receive higher rates of pay showing up and collecting your pay.PHRASES: in the pay of employed by.pay one's complimentssee compliment.pay court tosee court.pay dearly obtain something at a high cost or great effort: his master must have paid dearly for such a magnificent beast. ∎ suffer for an error or failure: they paid dearly for wasting goalscoring opportunities.pay one's duessee due.pay for itself (of an object or system) earn or save enough money to cover the cost of its purchase: the best insulation will pay for itself in less than a year.pay its (or one's) way (of an enterprise or person) earn enough to cover its (or one's) costs: some students are paying their way through college.pay one's last respects show respect toward a dead person by attending their funeral.pay one's respects make a polite visit to someone: we went to pay our respects to the head lama.pay through the nose inf. pay much more than a fair price.PHRASAL VERBS: pay someone back repay a loan to someone: a regular amount was deducted from my wages to pay her back. ∎ fig. take revenge on someone: a terrorist group had decided to pay him back for short-changing them. ∎ reward someone for something done earlier: I took Aunt Shirley a cake to pay her back for solving a problem my grandmother had.pay something back repay a loan to someone: the money should be paid back with interest | they did pay me back the money. pay something in pay money into a bank account.pay off inf. (of a course of action) yield good results; succeed: all the hard work I had done over the summer paid off.pay someone off dismiss someone with a final payment: when directors are fired, they should not be lavishly paid off.pay something off pay a debt in full: you may have saved up enough to pay off your second mortgage.pay something out (or pay out) 1. pay a large sum of money from funds under one's control: insurers can refuse to pay out.2. let out (a rope) by slackening it: I began paying out the nylon line.pay up (or pay something up) pay a debt in full: you’ve got ninety days to pay up the principal.DERIVATIVES: pay·er n.pay2 • v. (past and past part. payed) [tr.] Naut. seal (the deck or hull seams of a wooden ship) with pitch or tar to prevent leakage.
if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys proverbial saying, mid 20th century, meaning that a poor rate of pay will attract only poorly qualified and incompetent staff (peanuts here means ‘a small sum of money’).
pay beforehand was never well served Scottish proverbial saying, late 16th century, meaning that payment in advance removes the incentive to finish the work.
See also crime doesn't pay, they that dance must pay the fiddler, no cure, no pay, pays.
A. †pacify, please XII; give what is due in discharge of an obligation XIII; render (something due or exacted) XIV.
B. (naut.) let out (rope); cause to fall, fall, to leeward XVII. — (O)F. payer :— L. pācāre appease, pacify (in medL. pay), f. pāx, pāc- PEACE.
So pay sb. XIII. — (O)F. paie. payment XIV. — (O)F. paiement.