Lain vs. Lane

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Lain and lane are two words that are pronounced in the same manner but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. We will examine the definitions of lain and lane, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Lain is the past participle lie, meaning to rest in a horizontal position, to recline in a prone position. The word lie is derived from the Old English word licgan which means to be at rest.

A lane is a narrow street, often in a rural area. Lane may also refer to the separate lines of traffic a driver is expected to stay within, usually marked with lines painted on the pavement. Shipping lanes and air traffic lanes are routes that ships and jets are expected to follow between destinations. Lane may also refer to the strip of flooring that a bowler rolls his ball down in order to hit the pins. The word lane is derived from the Old English word lanu, which means a road lined by hedges.


The four-storey mill, which was built in 1885, had lain empty after textile production halted there in 1955. (The Manchester Evening News)

Runnicles, who was then all of 35 years old, made such an impressive showing that he was soon brought on as music director, a post that had lain vacant since the death of Sir John Pritchard in 1989. (The San Francisco Chronicle)

There’s no sidewalk nearby, only a very narrow shoulder along lanes where drivers whiz past on their way to or from Old Mission Peninsula. (The Traverse City Record Eagle)

A lane of the Skyway westbound from Paradise to Chico will be closed 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday and again June 19, to repair the concrete bridge railing over Butte Creek. (The Chico Enterprise-Record)

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