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

Devers cracked a two-run, opposite-field homer in the second inning on Friday night, giving the Sox a 3-1 led before a rain delay of two hours and four minutes. Peter Abraham,, "Selected or not, Rafael Devers is a star for Red Sox," 6 July 2019 However, during roof construction it was discovered the units had additional issues, which caused a delay but were fixed. John Benson,, "Fairview Park’s Gemini Center roof construction ending with pools reopening for summer fun," 5 July 2019 Giolito is coming off a win over the Twins in which his outing was shortened to five innings by a rain delay. Paul Sullivan,, "4 people to watch as the Cubs and White Sox resume the City Series on the South Side," 5 July 2019 In more encouraging news, the developers of Cuphead just announced a delay to that game's downloadable content, Delicious Last Course, for a very good reason. Julie Muncy, WIRED, "Cuphead Update Is Being Delayed for a Very Good Reason," 5 July 2019 Should a lawsuit or other delay arise, it will be covered up until the issues are resolved. CBS News, "Controversial George Washington mural to be painted over at San Francisco high school," 4 July 2019 Due to limited onsite parking, attendees are encouraged to take the shuttle to avoid traffic delays. Kristi Nix, Houston Chronicle, "Sugar Land’s ‘Red, White & Boom!’ boasts largest fireworks show in city’s history," 3 July 2019 Commuters should continue to expect at least 30 minute delays as lines get back on schedule., "Portland Wednesday traffic: Pole down causes major MAX line delays through the morning commute," 3 July 2019 Wynonna Earp‘s precarious, long production delay is finally coming to an end. David Canfield,, "Wynonna Earp finally greenlit to start production on season 4, will premiere next year," 2 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

With the brewery's opening delayed by a zoning dispute, founder Keith Sherrill had beers brewed under contract in Mississippi., "Coastal beer boom: New breweries opening soon in Mobile," 7 July 2019 The burnout was delayed by cool, wet weather Friday, public information officer Jacob Welsh said. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Hundreds of Fairbanks-area residents under precautionary wildfire evacuation alerts," 5 July 2019 The record goalscorer's return to the Bridge is expected to be confirmed shortly, after being delayed by the tactician's need for a holiday following his exploits in the Championship last season., "Mason Mount Among Youngsters Set to Commit Long-Term Futures to Chelsea," 3 July 2019 Experts had expected the jets to be back in the air in August — but those efforts were delayed after another potential problem with the 737 Max was discovered during testing, the company said last month. Jackie Wattles, CNN, "Boeing dedicates $100 million to victims of 737 Max crashes," 3 July 2019 Preliminary results were expected Tuesday but were delayed. Washington Post, "Albania president denounces municipal elections," 2 July 2019 That section, initially expected in April but delayed by squirrel damage, circles a region that includes Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky, Bevin said. USA TODAY, "Chicago cows, bras for turtles, gold rush: News from around our 50 states," 1 July 2019 Although the excavations were delayed through 2017, waiting for the bridge to be demolished, it was resumed and completed in 2018, Barrett said. Marcy De Luna, Houston Chronicle, "Archaeologists discover more than 150,000 historical artifacts near downtown Houston," 1 July 2019 The move advances legislation delayed for years by the strong influence of corporate money in Oregon politics, an investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive found., "Bill requiring safety plans for oil trains in Oregon heads to Gov. Brown," 29 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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Learn More about delay

Statistics for delay

Last Updated

9 Jul 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

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