• Delay


    • UK IPA: /dɪˈleɪ/
    • Rhymes: -eɪ

    Origin 1

    From Middle English delaien, from Anglo-Norman delaier, Old French deslaier, from des- + Old French laier ("to leave"), a conflation of Old Frankish *latjan (), and Old Frankish *laibjan (). Akin to Old English latian ("to delay, hesitate"), Old English latu ("a delay, a hindrance"), Old English lǣfan ("to leave"). More at let (to hinder), late, leave.

    Full definition of delay


    1. To put off until a later time; to defer.
      • Bible, Matthew xxiv. 48My lord delayeth his coming.
    2. To retard; to stop, detain, or hinder, for a time.
      The mail is delayed by a heavy fall of snow.
      • 1898, Winston Churchill, The Celebrity Chapter 10, Mr. Cooke had had a sloop yacht built at Far Harbor, the completion of which had been delayed, and which was but just delivered. … The Maria had a cabin, which was finished in hard wood and yellow plush, and accommodations for keeping things cold.
    3. (obsolete) To allay; to temper.
      • Edmund Spenser (c.1552–1599)The watery showers delay the raging wind.

    Usage notes

    This is a catenative verb that takes the gerund (-ing). See



    (plural delays)
    1. A period of time before an event occurs; the act of delaying; procrastination; lingering inactivity.the delay before the echo of a sound
      • Bible, Acts xxv. 17Without any delay, on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat.
      • MacaulayThe government ought to be settled without the delay of a day.

    Origin 2

    From Middle French délayer, ultimately from Latin dis- + ligāre.


    1. (obsolete) To dilute, temper.
    2. (obsolete) To assuage, quench, allay.
      • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.12:Those dreadfull flames she also found delayd
        And quenched quite like a consumed torch ….


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