Part of speech:
(Countable nouns, like “bottle,” “piece,” and “decision,” are words for things that can be broken into exact units. You talk about “a bottle,” “three pieces,” and “many decisions.”
Likewise, talk about "the laity." It's rarely plural.)
"Lay" means "non-professional," and a layperson, or a layman, is somebody who is NOT an expert, or who is NOT part of a particular profession.
The laity is the group of people who are NOT professionals in whatever specific field you're talking about. In other words, the laity is the group of people who are NOT in a particular profession, and so they don't have any deep knowledge of that profession.
Lay (adjective), layperson, laypeople, layman
How to use it:
We pretty much always use the phrase "the laity." It's a word that only makes sense when you're talking about a specific profession. You're either a healthcare professional, or you're in the laity--if we're talking about healthcare. And you're either a lawyer, or in you're in the laity--if we're talking about legal stuff. You're either an educator, or you're in the laity. And so on.
Talk about the laity's understanding of something, such as medicine or law, or the laity's opinion on something, the laity's impression of or assessment of some problem, the laity's demand for an easy solution, and so on. You might talk about how some idea is popular among the laity, or how some fact or concept is too abstruse for the laity to grasp, etc.
By the way, in this word's oldest meaning, "the laity" is specifically all the people who aren't preachers, ministers, bishops, etc., so often "the laity" means regular folks who go to church but aren't members of the clergy.
It's fascinating to hear people clear up misconceptions about their fields--those oversimplified or just plain wrong beliefs that are widespread in the laity, such as the idea that court cases are always dramatic and short, like on TV.
A well-written article for the laity on health or education always defines any acronyms or special terms being used. I mean, really. How are we supposed to know what a "non-ATM cash fee" is unless we actually work at a bank?
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "laity" means when you can explain it without saying “regular people" or “group of non-professionals."
Think of an issue or problem in your field (or in a field you're interested in) that most people outside the field don't understand, and fill in the blanks: "What the laity can't fully grasp is (why/how) _____."
Example: "What the laity can't fully grasp is how many unpaid hours classroom teachers tend to work, and how much of their own paychecks they spend on materials for their students."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
Our game for last month was "Whose Last Words?". I provided the final words spoken by a notable person, along with some clues, and you figured out who that person was. This game was based on the excellent reference book Last Words of Notable People, compiled with exacting care by William B. Brahms. I'm so glad to have this book on our shelf and grateful to Mr. Brahms for sharing his work with us this past month.
And now, a new game for July!
Our game this month is called A Verbal Tour of the US. I’ll ask you a trivia question each day this month about the names of US cities, states, geographic features, etc. Try it out each day, and see the right answer the next day. Happy verbal trails to you!
Here’s an example question:
This state's name comes from a Native American word meaning “ally” or “friend.” The name of one city in this state is a blend of two states' names. Which state is it?
Answer: Texas. Texarkana is on the border of Texas and Arkansas.
Try this one today:
Word-wise, what do the following cities have in common, along with many others? Waco, TX; Bedford, MA; Dayton, OH; Fargo, ND; Hot Springs, AR; Los Angeles, CA; San Antonio, TX; and Topeka, KS.
A Point Well Made:
Confucius: “To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.”
1. The opposite of LAITY is
2. According to much of the laity, dyslexia _____.
A. often co-occurs with other learning disabilities
B. is simply a disorder in which letters appear backwards
C. can range from mild to severe and does not disappear with age
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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