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

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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

But rezoning public land legislatively would likely require a yearlong environmental review — yet another delay as the mayor stresses the urgency of the crisis. Dominic Fracassa,, "Can mayor and SF supervisors make nice to build more affordable housing?," 21 June 2019 The inning included two delays — a short break to fix the mound and a 37-minute stoppage when the showers fell too hard. Ben Walker,, "Yanks 4 HRs, win 6th in row 10-6; Astros lose 5th straight," 21 June 2019 Pushed back by an rain delay earlier in the day, the game began at 9:28 p.m. and finished at 11:26 p.m. Ryan Thelen went the distance for the Raptors (21-6), who won the first title in school history. Mike Cook, Twin Cities, "Class 4A state baseball: No-hit for 4 innings, East Ridge erupts to beat New Prague for title," 21 June 2019 The park-and-program has long been discussed by city officials and has experienced numerous delays. Tyler Johnson, Houston Chronicle, "Pearland park-and-ride program to start July 15," 21 June 2019 See also: After multiple delays, the first Real ID rollout is hitting Kentucky this month The bus driver was seriously injured, and all other injuries appear to be non-life-threatening, Hodges said. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, "1 person dead after wrong-way car, Greyhound bus crash on I-65 in Kentucky," 20 June 2019 After a rain delay, Sweden scored twice late to earn a 2–0 victory over Chile. Charlotte Carroll,, "USA vs. Sweden Live Stream, TV Channel: Watch Women's World Cup," 20 June 2019 Schumer asks for probe into delay of Harriet Tubman $20 bill. Fox News, "Iran shoots down US drone in 'clear message'; Trump calls out 'unhinged' Dems in Fox exclusive," 20 June 2019 The lawsuit brought by the Writers Guild of America against Hollywood’s biggest talent agencies has changed judges for a third time, potentially adding further delay to a dispute that has left the TV industry in a state of uncertainty. David Ng,, "Writers Guild lawsuit against talent agencies gets a fourth judge in latest twist," 19 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

That means going without checks for a while, but your benefit earns delayed retirement credits that can increase the amount by 2/3 of 1% each month, or 8% a year. Liz Weston |,, "Liz Weston: Returning to work after retirement? You could increase your Social Security benefit," 23 June 2019 Colorado River reservoir water levels are staying so low — 43 percent full, even this wet year — that states recently had to set tighter rules for delaying the draw-down. Bruce Finley, The Denver Post, "A run through Colorado’s Yampa whitewater reveals the wildness that remains. But will the West’s rivers survive urban demands?," 23 June 2019 Trump also said that any talks with Iran would bar outright their ability to make any nuclear weapons, not simply delay that possibility. Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY, "Trump vows more sanctions on Iran, says military action is still 'on the table'," 22 June 2019 But production has been far from smooth; original director Danny Boyle pulled out, delaying the release, before Craig suffered an injury during shooting that required surgery and further stalled the project. Rob Picheta, CNN, "An heir-raising new role? Prince Charles stirs up James Bond set," 21 June 2019 But Trump announced an agreement with Mexico late last week and delayed the tariffs for the time being. Thomas Beaumont, Time, "President Trump and Biden Furiously Trade Barbs in Overlapping Iowa Events," 13 June 2019 But Trump announced an agreement with Mexico late last week and delayed the tariffs for the time being. Jaclyn Gallucci, Fortune, "Trump and Biden Head to Iowa in a Potential 2020 Preview," 11 June 2019 But Trump announced an agreement with Mexico late last week and delayed the tariffs for the time being. Thomas Beaumont,, "Biden calls Trump an ‘existential threat to America’ in Iowa speech," 11 June 2019 But Trump announced an agreement with Mexico late last week and delayed the tariffs for the time being. Thomas Beaumont And Darlene Superville,, "Biden and Trump head to Iowa in a potential 2020 preview," 11 June 2019

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

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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Statistics for delay

Last Updated

25 Jun 2019

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 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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on delay

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with delay

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for delay

Spanish Central: Translation of delay

Nglish: Translation of delay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of delay for Arabic Speakers

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).


having a desire to acquire more things

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