lay the table

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Senior Member
Hi all, is "lay the table" the British way of saying "set the table"?

e.g. Please lay the table now. It's time for dinner.

If so, do BE speakers say "set the table"?
  • natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    We say that too. I don't think I hear 'set the table' much, but I would understand it.
    lay British Set cutlery, crockery, etc. on (a table) in preparation for a meal.
    ‘she laid the table for dinner’
    ‘The Green Room features a table laid ready for a meal.’
    ‘Then off we go to find the dining room, and lay the table.’
    lay | Definition of lay in English by Oxford Dictionaries
    Thanks. Does "lay the table" only apply in a domestic setting? Can a waiter in a restaurant be said to be "laying the table"?
    Lay the table is usable in non-domestic settings too; and in a range of domestic settings too of course. Waiters (kitchen maids, butlers etc) can lay tables.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    We always used "set the table" when I was growing up. I don't set many tables these days.


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    This is listed in the dialect survey of England (map 96). Traditionally it was 'set' mostly in the north and east, 'lay' in the south and west, including London, so it's a bit more 'standard'.
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