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noun de·lay \di-ˈlā, dē-\

Simple Definition of delay

  • : a situation in which something happens later than it should

  • : the amount of time that you must wait for something that is late

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of delay

  1. 1 a :  the act of delaying :  the state of being delayed <get started without delay> b :  an instance of being delayed

  2. 2 :  the time during which something is delayed <a delay of 30 minutes>

Examples of delay in a sentence

  1. Do you know what's causing the delay?

  2. a number of flight delays

  3. After months of delay, construction on the new school began.

  4. Airline travelers are experiencing delays of up to three hours.

13th Century

First Known Use of delay

13th century



verb de·lay

Simple Definition of delay

  • : to wait until later to do something : to make something happen later

  • : to make (something or someone) late : to make (something or someone) take longer than expected or planned

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of delay

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  put off, postpone <delay a departure>

  3. 2 :  to stop, detain, or hinder for a time <the mails were delayed by heavy snows>

  4. 3 :  to cause to be slower or to occur more slowly than normal <delay a child's development>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. :  to move or act slowly; also :  to cause delay



Examples of delay in a sentence

  1. The doctor wants to delay surgery for a few weeks.

  2. She's planning to delay her retirement.

  3. He delayed too long, and now it's too late.

  4. Don't delay! Sale ends Saturday.

  5. Production problems delayed the introduction of the new model by several months.

Origin and Etymology of delay

Middle English, from Anglo-French delaier, from de- + laier to leave, from lai-, present and future stem of lesser, laisser to leave, from Latin laxare to slacken, from laxus loose — more at slack

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of delay

delay, retard, slow, slacken, detain mean to cause to be late or behind in movement or progress. delay implies a holding back, usually by interference, from completion or arrival <bad weather delayed our arrival>. retard suggests reduction of speed without actual stopping <language barriers retarded their progress>. slow and slacken also imply a reduction of speed, slow often suggesting deliberate intention <medication slowed the patient's heart rate>, slacken an easing up or relaxing of power or effort <on hot days runners slacken their pace>. detain implies a holding back beyond a reasonable or appointed time <unexpected business had detained her>.delay, procrastinate, lag, loiter, dawdle, dally mean to move or act slowly so as to fall behind. delay usually implies a putting off (as a beginning or departure) <we cannot delay any longer>. procrastinate implies blameworthy delay especially through laziness or apathy <procrastinates about making decisions>. lag implies failure to maintain a speed set by others <lagging behind in technology>. loiter and dawdle imply delay while in progress, especially in walking, but dawdle more clearly suggests an aimless wasting of time <loitered at several store windows> <children dawdling on their way home from school>. dally suggests delay through trifling or vacillation when promptness is necessary <stop dallying and get to work>.


biographical name De·Lay \di-ˈlā\

Definition of DeLay

  1. Thomas (Dale) 1947–     Am. polit.

DELAY Defined for Kids



noun de·lay \di-ˈlā\

Definition of delay for Students

  1. 1 :  a putting off of something <We began without delay.>

  2. 2 :  the time during which something is delayed <We will have a delay of 30 minutes.>



verb de·lay

Definition of delay for Students



  1. 1 :  to put off <Because of the baseball schedule, Stanley's trial was delayed several months. — Louis Sachar, Holes>

  2. 2 :  to stop or prevent for a time <Bad weather delayed our flight.>

  3. 3 :  to move or act slowly <We cannot delay any longer.>

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