de·lay | \ di-ˈlā , dē- \

Definition of delay 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : 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



Definition of delay (Entry 2 of 3)

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


biographical name
De·Lay | \ di-ˈlā \

Definition of DeLay (Entry 3 of 3)

Thomas (Dale) 1947–     American politician

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Other words from delay


delayer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of delay in a Sentence


Do you know what's causing the delay? a number of flight delays After months of delay, construction on the new school began. Airline travelers are experiencing delays of up to three hours.


The doctor wants to delay surgery for a few weeks. She's planning to delay her retirement. He delayed too long, and now it's too late. “Don't delay! Sale ends Saturday.” Production problems delayed the introduction of the new model by several months.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Drivers on Rancho Bernardo Road can expect delays through at least July 20 when traveling between Rancho Bernardo and Poway. Elizabeth Marie Himchak, Rancho Bernardo, "Road improvements coming to Rancho Bernardo Road," 11 July 2018 Sky Harbor tweeted that passengers should expect delays. Dawn Gilbertson, azcentral, "Monsoon storm delays Phoenix airport flights," 9 July 2018 Police say motorists should expect heavy delays in the area and seek alternative routes, the Associated Press reported. Adam Sennott,, "Drawbridge malfunction closes ramps to I-93 in Dorchester," 3 July 2018 The state Department of Transportation is warning that drivers can expect delays of 4.8 miles, stretching travel time to 41 minutes from Highway 18 until Elm Grove Road. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Traffic incident on I-94 at Elm Grove Road is causing significant backups," 2 July 2018 The truck is blocking the entire ramp, expect traffic delays in the area for some time. Zoe Szathmary, Fox News, "Tractor-trailer overturns in North Carolina, spills hundreds of watermelons onto interstate," 27 June 2018 The truck is blocking the entire ramp, expect traffic delays in the area for some time. charlotteobserver, "Overturned trailer spills watermelon all over I-485/I-77 interchange," 26 June 2018 The city is asking for motorist to expect traffic delays and to avoid the area as two lanes remain shut down. Staff Reports, Houston Chronicle, "Sinkhole in southwest Houston causes traffic delays, crews work to repair," 22 June 2018 Access will be maintained for businesses and residents during the work, but expect delays in the area and obey flaggers. Rosemarie Stein,, "Portland Wednesday Traffic: Night work closes the Broadway Bridge on Thursday," 13 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Sadly, Till’s mother, the indefatigable Mamie Till Mobley, is no longer alive to experience this justice delayed. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "raceAhead: Fresh Justice for Emmett Till?," 12 July 2018 Boca Raton residents who live near canals say they’re glad projects to chop down trees and vegetation are being delayed. Marci Shatzman,, "Boca Raton wins delay on plan to remove trees near residents' homes," 11 July 2018 The move, which officials had long projected would be complete by June 30, was delayed; officials would not provide a detailed explanation for why. Samantha Melamed,, "SCI Phoenix, Pennsylvania's costliest prison, finally opens," 11 July 2018 The hearing was scheduled for prosecutors to lay out the evidence against Bishop, but that was delayed after his lawyer said prosecutors had offered a plea deal and Bishop needed time to consider it. Nicole Darrah, Fox News, "FBI agent who mistakenly shot man during backflip in Denver bar can carry gun again, judge rules," 10 July 2018 That effort was delayed until after the break because of questions over how it should be drafted and what Mr. Trump would be willing to sign, GOP aides said. Kristina Peterson, WSJ, "Republicans Hesitant to Cross Trump on Trade," 9 July 2018 Wheeler said the SuperTanker, which helped fight California wildfires in 2017, was delayed this season due to bureaucratic and technical glitches that prevented his plane from being authorized in Colorado and California. Kellen Browning, sacbee, "'Stretched to the limit' by fires, state allows aerial SuperTanker to re-join fight," 7 July 2018 But after his connecting flight from Colorado Springs to Denver was delayed, the scrambling began. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "It was a rough day for Brewers pitcher Aaron Wilkerson," 7 July 2018 He had been slated to ship out to basic training in January 2017, but that also was delayed. CBS News, "U.S. Army abruptly discharging immigrant recruits: AP," 6 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of delay


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for delay


see delay entry 2


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

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Learn More about delay

Phrases Related to delay

delaying tactic

without delay

Statistics for delay

Last Updated

17 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for delay

The first known use of delay was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for delay



English Language Learners Definition of delay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a situation in which something happens later than it should

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



English Language Learners Definition of delay (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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


de·lay | \ di-ˈlā \

Kids Definition of delay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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.


delayed; delaying

Kids Definition of delay (Entry 2 of 2)

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.

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Comments on delay

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


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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