Paid or Payed? The One Time the 2nd One is Correct


Ok, grammar enthusiasts: It’s time to pay attention so you’re sure to know whether you should use the word paid or payed.

On the surface, the words paid and payed may look like they’d carry the same meaning. I imagine most of us never encounter the word payed. I encountered it the other day when I copyedited a story. Basic spellcheck did not flag the word.

That’s a problem with basic spellchecks: if the misspelled word it itself a valid word (even if it’s the wrong word), it won’t automatically alert you to the mistake.

That got me thinking about the word payed.

So which is correct: Paid or payed

The answer is, it depends. The first thing you have to know is that the words are definitely not interchangeable. Both have their own meanings.

The most common of the two, paid, is the past tense of the word pay. We use it to refer to the act of having remitted for goods or services. We also use it when we say we devoted our attention to someone or something, or when we have paid a debt, even if that payment comes in the form of something other than an exchange of money, as in having paid one’s dues.

Paid is the past tense and past participle form of pay.

So while we use paid in a financial sense, we use payed in a nautical sense. (If you’ve never encountered payed before, this definition might surprise you.)

Payed means to coat with a waterproof composition. The Grammarly blog points out the following about the nautical meanings of pay and its past-tense form, paid:

In those cases, pay can mean one of several things: it can mean to waterproof joints by painting them with tar and resin; it can mean to let the ship fall off leeward (pay off), or away from wind (pay away); it can mean to let out a rope or chain by slackening (pay out).

So if you’re not talking about a ship or waterproofing something, your only choice is paid.

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.