1

delay

noun de·lay \ di-ˈlā , dē- \
Updated on: 28 Nov 2017

Definition of delay

1 a : the act of postponing, hindering, or causing something to occur more slowly than normal : the state of being delayed
  • get started without delay
b : an instance of being delayed
  • apologized for the delay
  • a rain delay
2 : the time during which something is delayed
  • waited out 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.

Recent Examples of delay from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'delay.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of delay

see 2delay


2

delay

verb

Definition of delay

transitive verb
1 : put off, postpone
  • delay a departure
  • They're delaying marriage or, increasingly, not getting married at all …
  • —Irin Carmon
2 : to stop, detain, or hinder for a time
  • the mails were delayed by heavy snows
  • … issued executive orders delaying the release of records from Ronald Reagan's administration …
  • Editor & Publisher
3 : to cause to be slower or to occur more slowly than normal
  • delay a child's development
  • … a drug that not only can extend life by delaying the onset of aging-related diseases …
  • —Bill Gifford
intransitive verb
: to move or act slowly
  • This offer ends soon, so don't delay.
  • delayed in responding to my message
; also : to cause delay

delayer

noun

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.

Recent Examples of delay from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'delay.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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

delay Synonyms

Synonyms
crawl, creep, dally, dawdle, diddle, dillydally, drag, lag, linger, loiter, lollygag (also lallygag), mope, poke, shilly-shally, tarry, drag one's feet (also drag one's heels), drop behind, fall behind, hang fire, mark time, take one's time
Antonyms
barrel, bolt, career, course, dash, fly, hasten, hotfoot (it), hurry, race, rip, rocket, run, rush, scoot, scud, scurry, speed, tear, whirl, whisk, whiz (or whizz), zip
Related Words
fiddle (around), fool around, mess around, monkey (around), play, potter (around), putter (around), trifle; hang (around or out), idle, loaf, loll, lounge; amble, ease, inch, lumber, plod, saunter, shuffle, stagger, stroll; decelerate, slow (down or up); filibuster, procrastinate, stall, temporize
Near Antonyms
bowl, breeze, dart, hump, hurtle, hustle, scramble, stampede; gallop, jog, run, sprint, trot; accelerate, quicken, speed (up); catch up, fast-forward, outpace, outrun, outstrip, overtake

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 of something (such 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

DeLay

biographical name De·Lay \ di-ˈlā \

Definition of DeLay

Thomas (Dale) 1947–     American politician


DELAY Defined for English Language Learners

delay

noun

Definition of delay for English Language Learners

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

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


delay

verb

Definition of delay for English Language Learners

  • : 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


DELAY Defined for Kids

1

delay

noun de·lay \ di-ˈlā \

Definition of delay for Students

1 : a putting off of something
  • We began without delay.
2 : the time during which something is delayed
  • We will have a delay of 30 minutes.

2

delay

verb

Definition of delay for Students

delayed; delaying
1 : to put off
  • Because of the baseball schedule, Stanley's trial was delayed several months.
  • —Louis Sachar, Holes
2 : to stop or prevent for a time
  • Bad weather delayed our flight.
3 : to move or act slowly
  • We cannot delay any longer.


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up delay? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to laugh loudly or immoderately

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman-tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!