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‘Lie’ or ‘Lye’: What’s the Difference?

Shaun Connell
July 9, 2024

If you are looking for an explanation of the difference between 'lie' or 'lye,' you are in the right place!

Here is a short answer in case you are short on time: 

  • 'Lie' is a noun or verb for laying in a horizontal position or saying something that is not truthful. 
  • 'Lye' is a noun for a caustic substance or chemical used to make soap. 

To learn more about the meanings of these homonyms and how to use each grammatically, keep reading!

What is the Difference Between 'Lie' or 'Lye'

'Lie' and 'lye' are homonyms which means they sound the same, but have different spellings and definitions.

'Lie' is a verb that means to rest in a horizontal position or to say something untruthful. 'Lie' is also a noun for something that deceives people or the act of resting or lying.

On the other hand, 'lye' is a noun for a caustic substance used for making soap.

Definition of 'Lie': What Does 'Lie' Mean?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'lie' as a verb that means:

  • To be or stay in a horizontal resting position
  • To rest or recline
  • To assume or move into a horizontal position
  • Lodge or reside temporarily during the night
  • To have sexual relations
  • To stay inactive
  • To be in a defenseless or helpless state
  • To remain in a horizontal or flat position on a broad surface
  • To extend
  • To occupy a specific position or place
  • To affect something through weight, presence, or relative position
  • To belong or consist
  • To remain
  • To make an untruthful statement to deceive someone
  • To create a misleading or false statement

'Lie' is also a noun that means:

  • An assertion of something believed or known by the writer or speaker as being untrue
  • A charge for lying
  • Something that deceives or misleads

Synonyms of 'Lie'

  • Fib
  • Deceive
  • Fool
  • Delude
  • Fabricate
  • Delude
  • Misrepresent
  • Libel
  • Trick
  • Slander
  • Snow
  • Equivocate
  • Mislead
  • Defame
  • Misstate

Definition of 'Lye': What Does 'Lye' Mean?

The same dictionary defines 'lye' as a noun that means:

  • A strong alkaline liquor made from wood ashes that is rich in potassium chloride which is used to make soap
  • A solid caustic such as sodium chloride

Synonyms of 'Lye'

Like other highly specific terms, there are no synonyms for 'lye.'

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Lie' or 'Lye'

As I mentioned earlier, 'lie' and 'lye' are homonyms, so they have the same pronunciation despite their different spellings.

Here is a pronunciation guide you can reference.

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'lie':

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'lye':

Writing Tips: How and When to Use 'Lie' or 'Lye'

You learned the difference between these terms, but you may still be wondering exactly how to use each. So, here are some writing tips to help.

  • Use 'lie' to say that someone said something is untrue.

For example, you could say:

The lie he told fooled every one in the room. 

  • Use 'lye' when referring to the caustic substance used to make soap.

As an example, you can say:

Our science teacher told us to be careful when using chemicals like lye to prevent burns and injuries. 

  • Use 'lie' with down when referring to a resting horizontal position.

So, you might hear a parent say:

You have school tomorrow. It is time for you to lie down. 

  • Use 'lie' with awake to say that someone is in a wakeful resting horizontal position.

As an example, you can say:

Did you get some sleep or did you lie awake all night? 

  • Use 'lie' with with to imply that someone had sexual relations with someone.

For example, you could say:

His friends and family were angry that he would lie with a woman who wasn't his wife.

Sample Sentences Using 'Lie' or 'Lye'

Now, read these sample sentences to ensure that you understand and remember how to use 'lie' or 'lye' in various contexts.


  • We are going to lie down for a little bit before the show tonight because we are going to be up late.
  • If you tell lies, people will have a hard time trusting or believing you.
  • Everything he said in his speech was a lie.
  • You need to be careful about who you lie with especially if you are in a position of power.
  • We never lie because we believe honesty is the best policy.
  • If you are going to lie, please refrain from adding your input.
  • Are you sure you want to be associated with someone who lies all the time?
  • As a freelance writer, you have to fact-check your content. Because if you create posts that are not factual, people could assume everything you write is a lie.


  • Using lye requires the use of special safety equipment.
  • How do you use lye to make soap?
  • Please store the lye in a cool dry place with a label that informs other people what is in the container.
  • The parents were apprehensive about allowing their children to use lye in science projects.
  • If you spill lye, you must handle the spill carefully to avoid injuries.
  • The irresponsible student left a lye spill on the desk.
  • We used lye in our high school science class.

Review: The Difference Between 'Lie' or 'Lye'

Before you go, take a look at this recap of what you learned about the difference between 'lie' or 'lye':

  • 'Lie' is a verb or noun for resting in a horizontal position or saying something untruthful. 
  • 'Lye' is a noun for a chemical or substance that is high in potassium chloride which is highly corrosive and caustic. 

As a writer, you will rarely need to know the meaning of 'lye.' However, you may often use 'lie.'

Hopefully after reading this post, you will remember the difference between them. However, if you ever need a reminder, you can always return to this page for a quick review of this lesson.

You can also learn about dozens of other frequently misused, misspelled, and mispronounced English terms here. You can also find posts to help you start or improve your freelance writing career.

So, check out a few others before you go, and come back frequently to stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends.

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Written By:
Shaun Connell
Shaun Connell has spent his entire career either working as a freelance writer or hiring freelance writers for his many successful publications. Shaun has learned the exact tricks of the trade to hire the perfect writer for almost any niche.

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