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Ley (landform)

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The Loreley on the River Rhine, c. 1900
Erpeler Ley on the Rhine
The Rabenlay near Oberwesel

Ley (the Ley, plural: the Leyen) is an old German word for rock, cliff or crag which often occurs in placenames.



Ley, also lay, lei, lai, laige[1] or lägge,[2] and, according to Grimm, leie, is a commonly occurring name for rocks or crags in the Rhenish and Lower German language regions. It is derived from the Old Saxon word, lêia. It is particularly associated with rock precipices (Felsabbrüche) and rock faces (Felswände), but also with rock slabs (Felsplatte). In addition, it is also used in the sense of shale or slate (Leienstein), and also to mean "slate" in the sense of a blackboard or roofing tile (Leiendecker). Its Dutch form is leyde or leye.[3]

According to Celtologists at the University of Trier the term may have originally come from the Gallic (Celtic) word, lika, likka which means "rock slab/sheet.[4]

In addition to natural rock walls, an artificial quarry, such as the basalt quarries of the Eifel, may be called a Ley or Lay. The workers there are known as Layer.[5]




  1. ^ Friedrich Woeste: Wörterbuch der westfälischen Mundart. Leipzig, 1882, p. 155 (online)
  2. ^ Reinhard Pilkmann-Pohl: Plattdeutsches Wörterbuch des kurkölnischen Sauerlandes. Strobel-Verlag, Arnsberg 1988.
  3. ^ Eintrag LEIE,LEI, f. fels, stein. In: Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm: Deutsches Wörterbuch. Leipzig 1854-1960 (dwb.uni-trier.de)
  4. ^ Forum Keltic Studies zu Lei
  5. ^ "Vulkanschule: Die Museumslay" (in German). Vulkanpark, Nationaler Geopark Vulkanland Eifel. Archived from the original on 2015-05-26. Retrieved 2015-05-26.