‘Lie' or 'Lye': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on December 20, 2022

Are you wondering whether to use ‘lie’ or ‘lye’? And what is the difference between the two? We’ll cover that in this article, plus teach you how to use both correctly in a sentence.

The quick answer is:

  • ‘Lie’ means to be or stay at rest, to say something untrue, or to exist, belong or remain.
  • ‘Lye’ is a strong alkaline liquor that used to be used in chemical hair relaxers.

‘Lye’ vs. ‘Lie’ – What’s the Difference?

As you just learned, the difference between ‘lye’ and ‘lie’ is that the former is a chemical liquid, and the other means to be or stay at rest, to say something untrue, or to exist, belong or remain.

Lay, Lie, Lied, Lain – When Do We Use Which?

You might be struggling with which word to use (and when to use it) when it comes to words like ‘lay,’ ‘lie,’ ‘lied,’ and ‘lain.’

You already learned what ‘lie’ means.

‘Lay’ means to set (something) down.

‘Lied’ is the past tense of ‘lie.’

‘Lain’ is the past participle of ‘lie.’

Definition and Meaning of ‘Lie’ 

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘lie’ is: “to be or to stay at rest in a horizontal position: be prostrate: rest, recline,” “to reside temporarily: stay for the night: lodge,” “to have sexual intercourse,” “to remain inactive (as in concealment),” “to be in a helpless or defenseless state,” “of an inanimate thing: to be or remain in a flat or horizontal position upon a broad support,” “to have a direction: extend,” “to occupy a certain relative place or position,” “to have a place in relation to something else,” “to have an effect through mere presence, weight, or relative position,” “to be sustainable or admissible,” and “to remain at anchor or becalmed.”

It also means: “to have a place: exist,” “consist, belong,” and “remain.”

As a noun, it means: “lay,” “the position or situation in which something lies,” “the haunt of an animal (such as a fish): covert,” and “British: an act or instance of lying or resting.”

As a verb, it means: “to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive” and “to create a false or misleading impression.”

The transitive verb definition is: “to bring about by telling lies.”

And as a noun, it means: “an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker or writer to be untrue with intent to deceive,” “an untrue or inaccurate statement that may or may not be believed true by the speaker or writer,” “something that misleads or deceives” and “a charge of lying.”

Definition and Meaning of ‘Lye’ 

The Merriam Webster definition of the word ‘lye’ is: “a strong alkaline liquor rich in potassium carbonate leached from wood ashes and used especially in making soap and for washing,” “broadly: a strong alkaline solution (such as sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide),” and “a solid caustic (such as sodium hydroxide).”

Now that we know what both words mean let’s see how to use them in a sentence correctly.

How to Use ‘Lie’ in a Sentence

Using ‘lie’ in a sentence shouldn’t be difficult, with the following examples to help guide you.

  • Don’t lie to the principal. He can suspend or expel you.
  • Go lie down on the bed if you’re too tired to come with us.
  • I know you sent that email. Please don’t lie to me.
  • I wouldn’t lie to you. I’m generally an honest person.
  • I’m sorry I lied about liking anime. I just wanted you to like me.
  • I can’t believe you would lie to me like that.

How to Use ‘Lye’ in a Sentence

Now let’s see some examples of how to use ‘lye’ in a sentence correctly.

  • Chemical hair relaxers come with no lye now.
  • The dough was made of lye water, cake flour, and a few other basic ingredients.
  • If you’re not using lye, then what are you going to use to make this?
  • My soap has lye in it, among other ingredients.
  • Did you know lye is used to cure a lot of different types of foods?
  • I never use lye directly on my skin; it’s dangerous.

Final Thoughts on ‘Lie’ and ‘Lye’

Now that you know the difference between the two words we just discussed in detail, you should be able to use them in your writing confidently.

If you ever need a refresher, you can always come back and brush up on what you’ve been learning. We’ve got an entire library of content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases you might come across while learning English.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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