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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There will be no delay in pickup in other communities, according to Rumpke Parking Parking meters are not enforced on Memorial Day in Downtown Cincinnati. Erin Glynn,, "Here's what's open and closed this Memorial Day," 23 May 2020 In South Africa delays have led people to form queues (not always socially distanced ones) outside post offices to sign up for benefits. The Economist, "The great reversal Covid-19 is undoing years of progress in curbing global poverty," 23 May 2020 At the same time, the pandemic has caused postal service delays and triggered a tsunami of ballot requests statewide. NBC News, "Decision not to extend Pa. vote-by-mail deadline could lower AAPI turnout," 23 May 2020 Construction work on the $74-million facility has continued throughout the COVID-19 quarantine, with no delays for health and safety reasons. Creg Stephenson |, al, "South Alabama AD: Hancock Whitney Stadium expected at ‘full capacity’ this season," 22 May 2020 The senators — Senate Energy Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins of Maine, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina — are calling on the Treasury to extend certain deadlines for the federal tax credits to account for equipment delivery delays. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy: A win for vulnerable Republicans," 22 May 2020 These veterans face homelessness, lack of health care, delays in receiving financial support and even death. Jamie Rowen, The Conversation, "Memorial Day: Why veterans are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic," 22 May 2020 Mixed emotions For some dedicated fans, this year’s delay of the 2020 Indy 500 was an answer to a prayer. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "Without an Indy 500 in May, longtime fans grapple with emotions: It doesn't feel like May," 22 May 2020 In early March, as the spread of COVID-19 began to prompt shutdowns and delays around the world, Universal pushed Fast 9 almost a year to April 2, 2021. Derek Lawrence,, "Fast & Furious 9 should be out now, instead we're left with these burning questions," 22 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Some regions like North Texas might get in a delayed but compressed season. Cheryl Hall, Dallas News, "Virtual graduations, coaching clinics and quick thinking keep Varsity Brands connected to schools," 10 May 2020 Marquee trials, including the murder trial prosecution of New York real estate scion Robert Durst, have also been delayed. Alex Wigglesworth, Los Angeles Times, "L.A. County judges and other staff required to wear face masks in courts due to coronavirus," 9 May 2020 On Friday morning, Pence's trip to Des Moines, Iowa, was delayed for more than an hour as aides who had been in close contact with Miller were escorted from Air Force Two out of precaution. Anchorage Daily News, "Trump flouts coronavirus protocols as security experts warn of need to protect president from a lethal threat," 9 May 2020 Tens of thousands of liters of pesticides have been delayed in reaching the region because of border closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Washington Post, "They’re back: Trillions of locusts descend on East Africa in second wave," 5 May 2020 Looking at a $300 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year ending June 30, the North Carolina DOT has delayed more than 100 roadwork projects set to start in the coming year. Alex Davies, Wired, "Covid-19 Spurs a Road Repair Boom—and Threatens a Bust," 4 May 2020 The ceremony was delayed from its original April 20 date and the announcement was made on YouTube Monday by Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy from home, instead of at a news conference at New York's Columbia University. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "Colson Whitehead's 'The Nickel Boys,' Anthony Davis' 'Central Park Five' win Pulitzer Prizes," 4 May 2020 Usually, the networks announce their fall schedules in May, but this year's upfronts have been delayed. Sabienna Bowman,, "There’s Still Hope For Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2," 3 May 2020 Six states — Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island — delayed their primaries to June 2, joining the four states and the District of Columbia that were scheduled to already scheduled to hold primaries that day. Caroline Linton, CBS News, "Joe Biden wins Kansas primary, putting him fewer than 600 delegates away from clinching nomination," 3 May 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about delay

Time Traveler for delay

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for delay

Last Updated

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Delay.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for delay


How to pronounce DeLay (audio)

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on delay

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for delay

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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