(sea term). To cover with pitch. (Latin, picare, to cover with pitch.)
(To). To discharge a debt. (French, payer.)
From the corresponding French phrase, “payer les violons,” it would seem to mean who is to pay the fiddler or piper if we have a dance [on the green]; who is going to stand Sam?
(To). To slacken a cable; as, “Pay away” [more cable]; that is, “discharge” more cable. (French, payer.)
(To). To requite, to punish.
“They with a foxe-tale him soundly did paye.”
The King and Northerne Man (1640).
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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