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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2008-06-28 23:34:36

From: Winchester Massachusetts
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 674

'the ley of the land' for 'the lay of the land'

Ley Lines are supposed alignments of ancient monuments, and are the subject of a lot of woolly, new-age speculation. That connects ‘ley’ with geodesy and makes it a natural word to insert into the vaguely geodetic idiom ‘lay of the land.’ Or maybe the substitution went the other way; informed commentary would be appreciated. Examples:

In ancient Celtic Ireland, the “ley of the land” was not about the geographical, physical nature of one’s surroundings. It had a much more powerful meaning …

“Let’s get the ley of the land”. A common phrase that is heard when people arrive in a new area who want to survey or arrange the area.

Honoring our elders, respecting the ley of the land, sharing traditions, and gathering peace-making families for a global village…

Regular dragon paths could become ley lines and to the ancient Celts, the “ley of the land” was a term describing how cosmic forces flowed through … you discovered a better route to utilize now that you know the ley of the land and the obstacles before it.

The Celts believed that dragons were creatures of the parallel world and their power and presence would affect the ley of the land.

Ley of The Land. The seven hills of San Francisco, core spiritual power of the Haight-Ashbury, are The City’s unshakeable underpinnings, ...



#2 2008-06-29 01:56:25

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2725

Re: 'the ley of the land' for 'the lay of the land'

If it’s of any help, the OED cites “lie of the land” going back as early as 1700. Here is part of their citation:

1. a. Manner of lying; direction or position in which something lies; direction and amount of slope or inclination. Also fig. the state, position, or aspect (of affairs, etc.). Phr. the lie of the land. 1697 Collect. Connect. Hist. Soc. (1897) VI. 248 Nott to alter the proper lye of the Land. 1843 RUSKIN Mod. Paint. (1851) I. II. VI. i. §30. 399 The general lie and disposition of the boughs. 1849 J. F. W. JOHNSTON Exper. Agric. 101 On what geological formation the land rests{em}its physical position or lie.

“Ley lines” seem to be, as you note, a more recent coinage.

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



#3 2015-12-29 09:09:11

David Bird
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1646

Re: 'the ley of the land' for 'the lay of the land'

No psychic gift makes a person spiritual. This includes visions and seeing lei lines, and feeling energies, and knowing the future. ... For your information, there are Indians who have never had a vision, Indians who don’t care at all about spirituality, Indians who don’t feel like they have “powers”, and Indians who don’t even know what a lei line is, let along having ever looked for one. There are Indians who prefer hunting deer to hunting visions; there are Indians who prefer to watch Bonanza to watching lei lines.!topic … %5B1-25%5D

Strung like a lei across the landscape.



#4 2015-12-30 11:41:40

Registered: 2015-07-08
Posts: 12

Re: 'the ley of the land' for 'the lay of the land'

I doubt this actually played into the eggcorn, but the “ley” in “ley line” is, IIRC, a variant spelling of “lea”, as in an archaic term for field or meadow. As originally conceived, the lines were (purportedly) remarkably straight alignments of settlements and archaeological sites in relatively open ground like the south of England, proposed as evidence of prehistoric roadways before they were conceived as a spiritual phenomenon.



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