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A layperson or layman is a person who is not an expert in a given field of knowledge. Originally, the term signified a member of the laity, i.e., a non-clergyman. In current use the meaning is always obvious from the context: "laymen often think that the sequence 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 is less likely to come up in a lottery than, say, 3, 6, 11, 19, 27, 34" implies that statisticians and mathematicians (rather than clergymen or physicians) do not think this.
The concept of describing something "in layman's terms" has come into wide use in the English-speaking world. To put something in layman's terms is to describe a complex or technical issue using words that the average person (someone without professional training in the subject area) can understand.
Laity means "common people"; the English word "laity" comes from the Greek laik'l, which meant "of the people" or "common" (i.e. unholy, unclean). The related Greek verb laikoô meant "to make common or desecrate".
Notes and references
- "Layman". Oxford English Dictionary Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved August 18, 2013.