When you pay, you give money in return for something. It’s not always money, though. If your brother says, “You’ll pay for this!” after you snooped in his room, he’s not talking about money. He means you’re going to get it!

Your neighbor might pay you to shovel his driveway — and you can take the money you earn and pay for movie tickets for you and your best friend. Whenever there's an exchange of money and goods (or services), someone pays someone else. It can also be used for ideas. If your teacher warns your class that "crime doesn't pay," she means you might get money but it's not worth it. Education does pay, though, because it makes you smarter.

Primary Meanings of pay

give money, usually in exchange for goods or services
something that remunerates
convey, as of a compliment, regards, attention, etc.; bestow
Full Definitions of pay

v give money, usually in exchange for goods or services

“I paid four dollars for this sandwich”
Pay the waitress, please”
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subsidise, subsidize
secure the assistance of by granting a subsidy, as of nations or military forces
obtain or provide money for
contribute, put up
compensate, recompense, remunerate
make payment to; compensate
pay too much
pay too little
pay for something before receiving it
go Dutch
share expenses equally and split the cost of something
compensate, indemnify, recompense, repair
make amends for; pay compensation for
pay a tenth of one's income, especially to the church
send (money) in payment
pay off, redeem
pay off (loans or promissory notes)
drop, expend, spend
pay out
bribe, buy, corrupt, grease one's palms
make illegal payments to in exchange for favors or influence
give back, refund, repay, return
pay back
foot, pick
pay for something
disburse, pay out
expend, as from a fund
pay with a credit card; pay with plastic money; postpone payment by recording a purchase as a debt
pay cash
pay (for something) with cash
bear the expenses of
kick back
pay a kickback; make an illegal payment
give preference to one creditor over another
consume, deplete, eat, eat up, exhaust, run through, use up, wipe out
use up (resources or materials)
consume, squander, ware, waste
spend extravagantly
be able to spare or give up
help (an enterprise) in its early stages of development by providing seed money
support financial backing for
renew the financing of
convert (short-term floating debt) into long-term debt that bears fixed interest and is represented by bonds
recoup, reimburse
reimburse or compensate (someone), as for a loss
spend lavishly or wastefully on
trifle away, wanton, wanton away
spend wastefully
spend at less than the normal rate
spend (money or other resources) unwisely
nickel-and-dime, penny-pinch
spend money frugally; spend as little as possible
commit, invest, place, put
make an investment
give a conciliatory gift or bribe to
buy off, pay off
pay someone with influence in order to receive a favor
pay back for some expense incurred
restitute, restore
give or bring back
economise, economize, save
spend sparingly, avoid the waste of
deliver in exchange or recompense
lay out
spend or invest
piddle, piddle away, trifle, wanton, wanton away
waste time; spend one's time idly or inefficiently
spend time badly or unwisely
Type of:
transfer possession of something concrete or abstract to somebody

v do or give something to somebody in return

“Does she pay you for the work you are doing?”
compensate, make up, pay off
Type of:
dispose of; make a financial settlement

v discharge or settle

pay a debt”
pay an obligation”
ante up, pay up
cancel or discharge a debt
liquidate, pay off
eliminate by paying off (debts)
Type of:
dispose of; make a financial settlement

v cancel or discharge a debt

pay up, please!”
ante up, pay up
default, default on
fail to pay up
liquidate, pay off
eliminate by paying off (debts)
pay off (a mortgage)
amortise, amortize
liquidate gradually

v be worth it

“It pays to go through the trouble”
Type of:
have the quality of being; (copula, used with an adjective or a predicate noun)

v bear (a cost or penalty), in recompense for some action

“You'll pay for this!”
“She had to pay the penalty for speaking out rashly”
“You'll pay for this opinion later”
get one's lumps, take one's lumps
suffer the results or consequences of one's behavior or actions
Type of:
abide, bear, brook, digest, endure, put up, stand, stick out, stomach, suffer, support, tolerate
put up with something or somebody unpleasant

v make a compensation for

“a favor that cannot be paid back”
fix, get, pay back, pay off
take vengeance on or get even
Type of:
repay, requite
make repayment for or return something

v bring in

“How much does this savings certificate pay annually?”
bear, yield
clear, net
yield as a net profit
pay off
yield a profit or result
Type of:
bring in, clear, earn, gain, make, pull in, realise, realize, take in
earn on some commercial or business transaction; earn as salary or wages

n something that remunerates

“wages were paid by check”
“he wasted his pay on drink”
earnings, remuneration, salary, wage
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combat pay
extra pay for soldiers engaged in active combat
double time
a doubled wage (for working overtime)
food and lodging provided in addition to money
reduced wage paid to someone who is not working full time
living wage
a wage sufficient for a worker and family to subsist comfortably
merit pay
extra pay awarded to an employee on the basis of merit (especially to school teachers)
minimum wage
the lowest wage that an employer is allowed to pay; determined by contract or by law
pay envelope, pay packet
wages enclosed in an envelope for distribution to the wage earner
sick pay
wages paid to an employee who is on sick leave
strike pay
money paid to strikers from union funds
take-home pay
what is left of your pay after deductions for taxes and dues and insurance etc
Type of:
regular payment
a payment made at regular times

v convey, as of a compliment, regards, attention, etc.; bestow

“Don't pay him any mind”
pay attention”
extend, offer
offer verbally
Type of:
communicate, intercommunicate
transmit thoughts or feelings

v dedicate

pay attention to”
devote, give
give, sacrifice
endure the loss of
Type of:
cerebrate, cogitate, think
use or exercise the mind or one's power of reason in order to make inferences, decisions, or arrive at a solution or judgments

v render

pay a visit”
pay a call”
Type of:
perform or carry out

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