de·​lay | \ di-ˈlā How to pronounce delay (audio) , 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


delayed; delaying; delays

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 How to pronounce DeLay (audio) \

Definition of DeLay (Entry 3 of 3)

Thomas (Dale) 1947–     American politician

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

Noun 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. Verb 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 The delay in providing boosters could be costly, said Dr. T. Jacob John, former chief of virology at Christian Medical College in southern India. Aniruddha Ghosal,, 10 Jan. 2022 Critics also worry that the inevitable delay in results from hand counting would be an opportunity for those looking to sow doubt about the outcome of future contests. Kelly Mena, CNN, 10 Jan. 2022 Kilar told Puck News that Warner Bros. is keeping its eye on the pandemic, but no delay is currently in the cards. Zack Sharf, Variety, 10 Jan. 2022 The delay in the rollout of 5G is only the latest of several factors making companies cautious on deploying the next-generation wireless service in their operations, analysts and industry executives say. Suman Bhattacharyya, WSJ, 6 Jan. 2022 Pendergrass said the department’s delay in notifying the public is another misstep by Hogan’s administration in combating a pandemic that has killed 11,706 Marylanders as of Tuesday and sickened hundreds of thousands more. Taylor Deville,, 5 Jan. 2022 The Lamont administration had said repeatedly this week that the delay was due to shipping and supply chain problems. Jesse Leavenworth,, 31 Dec. 2021 Such a delay was due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation. Dario Sabaghi, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2021 The final delay was a result of inclement weather in French Guiana—where the rainy season rolled in to keep the telescope grounded until Christmas Day. Nadia Drake, Science, 25 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that domestic travelers delay any trips until they are fully vaccinated and that everyone wear a mask at the airport and on planes. NBC News, 7 Jan. 2022 Chessare expressed concern that some people would continue to avoid or delay vaccination, thinking that most healthy adults won’t get very sick with the coronavirus. Pamela Wood,, 6 Jan. 2022 Don’t collect your sample on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, as FedEx’s curtailed weekend operations will delay its delivery to Fulgent. Karen Garcia, Los Angeles Times, 5 Jan. 2022 Winter storms across the Midwest also complicated travel plans for travelers during New Year’s weekend, forcing airline carriers to cancel and delay hundreds of flights. Joseph De Avila, WSJ, 4 Jan. 2022 Students in the city headed back to class on Monday for the first time since holiday breaks, which came as the United Federation of Teachers president requested Mayor Eric Adams delay in-person learning in light of the spike in cases. Fox News, 4 Jan. 2022 While Omicron may delay some buyers’ travel, foreign interest is likely to boost sales, Ms. Olshan said. New York Times, 31 Dec. 2021 The sale ends January 1, but don't delay — things have already started to sell out. Jenifer Calle, SELF, 25 Dec. 2021 UConn will conduct courses online only for the first two weeks of the spring semester and delay the move-in period, the university president announced. Jesse Leavenworth,, 31 Dec. 2021

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


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


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

History and Etymology for delay

Verb and Noun

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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Time Traveler for delay

Time Traveler

The first known use of delay was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near delay

De La Warr



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Statistics for delay

Last Updated

14 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Delay.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

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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 How to pronounce delay (audio) \

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on delay

Nglish: Translation of delay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of delay for Arabic Speakers


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