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

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 In the past month, Robinhood employees apologized many times for the delay and told him his tax forms are in the next batch to be released. Peter Rudegeair, WSJ, "Robinhood Has a Customer Service Problem," 28 Apr. 2021 Even after checking, the family got hung up in a 40-minute delay on Highway 4 as SpaceX moved a giant crane. Brandon Lingle, San Antonio Express-News, "'This is not SpaceX property - this is my property': SpaceX looks to recast South Texas town as 'Starbase'," 24 Apr. 2021 One reason for the delay in announcing the suspension may have been the MLS appeals process, which allows the team, Lletget and the league’s players association to question the penalty. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, "MLS suspends Galaxy’s Sebastian Lletget for homophobic slur," 23 Apr. 2021 Barnhart appeared to be demanding the umpires call for a delay. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, "Conditions play in Arizona Diamondbacks' favor before rain halts game vs. Cincinnati Reds," 21 Apr. 2021 The case against surging vaccines to Michigan is not just rooted in the maximum six-week delay until people acquire full immunity. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Michigan vaccine rebuff puts Biden and a top ally in a dicey political spot," 13 Apr. 2021 During Monday's hearing, the court heard from Norman Effman, an attorney for Weinstein, who asked for a delay on a likely extradition to allow his client to undergo key medical procedures now scheduled by the New York prisons system. Etan Vlessing, Billboard, "Harvey Weinstein Moves Closer to Extradition to Los Angeles," 13 Apr. 2021 According to the website, county officials have plenty of volunteers, which could result in a delay in the application and background check process. Jessica Flores, San Francisco Chronicle, "How to help ramp up coronavirus vaccination efforts in your Bay Area community," 7 Apr. 2021 Biden stands out only for the delay in holding the first one of a new administration. Steve Chapman,, "Column: Biden’s low profile is a bonus, not a burden," 24 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Many were waiting for the Johnson & Johnson one-shot immunization, while others said their physicians advised them to delay vaccination due to pregnancy or a prior COVID-19 infection. Christen Smith, Washington Examiner, "Vaccine hesitancy among longterm care workers a complex issue, Pennsylvania providers group says," 30 Apr. 2021 Some people on immunosuppressive therapies, may need to delay a dose because the therapies can blunt the immune response to the vaccines, for instance. Washington Post, "Here’s what to do if you get covid-19 between vaccine doses," 30 Apr. 2021 Those technical issues also forced the state to delay the program’s second round. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive, "Oregon grants will cover missed rent for nearly 12,000; state opens applications for second round," 29 Apr. 2021 Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten has repeatedly stated a desire to give the video to Brown’s family immediately, but District Attorney Andrew Womble fought to delay the release. NBC News, "Blocked release of bodycam video in Brown case highlights North Carolina law," 28 Apr. 2021 Democrats in the North Carolina General Assembly filed a measure this month proposing that body camera video be released within 48 hours unless a law enforcement agency asks a court to delay its distribution. CBS News, "FBI launches civil rights investigation into death of Black man killed by deputies," 28 Apr. 2021 In short, these young adults were seeking to delay reaching adulthood much like many Millennials and Gen Zers do today. Alexis Redding, The Atlantic, "The Real Reason Young Adults Seem Slow to ‘Grow Up’," 28 Apr. 2021 American culture encourages you to delay feeling proud of yourself until external validation has been granted. Koritha Mitchell, Time, "I'm a Black Woman Who's Met All the Standards for Promotion. I'm Not Waiting to Reward Myself," 27 Apr. 2021 Democrats in the North Carolina General Assembly filed a measure this month proposing that body camera video be released within 48 hours unless a law enforcement agency asks a court to delay its distribution. Ben Finley, Anchorage Daily News, "FBI starts investigation into shooting death of Black man by North Carolina deputies," 27 Apr. 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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Statistics for delay

Last Updated

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Delay.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for delay

Nglish: Translation of delay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of delay for Arabic Speakers

Comments on delay

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