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


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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In April, Patel had said talks had regained momentum after months of delay. Marissa Luck, Houston Chronicle, "LyondellBasell, Braskem end merger talks," 4 June 2019 Hours before the state budget is expected to come up for debate in the state Senate, Republican leaders issued a call for a delay., "Sen. Fasano demands delay in budget vote, but is blocked," 4 June 2019 By Communities in Kansas and Missouri ravaged by floods and tornadoes will be getting much needed federal relief dollars now that Congress has approved a $19 billion disaster aid bill after weeks of delay. Bryan Lowry, kansascity, "Federal aid headed to Missouri, Kansas as disaster bill passes after weeks of delay," 3 June 2019 Hours of delays at the U.S.-Mexican border are common for trucks delivering commercial goods, which is costly for DHL Express USA. Sara Castellanos, WSJ, "FedEx CIO Looks to Industry Collaboration to Scale Blockchain," 29 Apr. 2019 Aerodata's unknown computer issue has been resolved, but the impact of delays could last well into Monday. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Hundreds of Flights Across The Country Were Delayed by a Computer Glitch," 1 Apr. 2019 Ajax had originally made moves for 24-year-old Argentine defender Magallan, but that transfer has suffered a number of delays in recent weeks - leading to the emergence of Blind as a possible alternative., "Ajax Boss Admits Man Utd Star Is 'One of Two' Primary Options to Sign This Summer," 8 July 2018 Last Sunday in Cincinnati a similar scenario played out as Wilkerson made his 2018 Brewers debut coming out of a nearly hour-long rain delay. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "It was a rough day for Brewers pitcher Aaron Wilkerson," 7 July 2018 The board’s report highlighted a series of human errors and embedded problems in the hardware as the main drivers of the delay. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "NASA’s Webb telescope delayed to 2021," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Ewing’s extradition has been delayed pending his appeal to the Nevada high court. Ken Ritter, The Denver Post, "Nevada court to decide on extradition of man facing death penalty charges for 1984 Colorado killings," 6 June 2019 But a review of that financing proposal, which needs Common Council approval, has been delayed because of questions and concerns raised by council members. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "How will Milwaukee complete its streetcar lakefront loop if the Couture high-rise transit center isn't built?," 5 June 2019 The trip has been repeatedly delayed since Queen Elizabeth first invited him in 2017., "Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles Join Donald and Melania Trump for D-Day Event," 5 June 2019 Despite the fact that the second film killed it at the box office, production on Fantastic Beasts 3 has been delayed and won't start until spring 2020. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Everything We Know About "Fantastic Beasts 3"," 29 Apr. 2019 Meghan and Harry are doing A LOT of changes to the residence, including making it incredibly eco-friendly, so the project has been significantly delayed. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Have Reportedly Moved into Frogmore Cottage," 4 Apr. 2019 However, the move has been delayed by about a month now due to renovations, Omid Scobie told GMA. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry Reportedly Lightened His Workload to Be with Meghan Markle as Her Due Date Approaches," 27 Mar. 2019 Britain was due to depart the EU on Friday but the process has been delayed after Parliament twice rejected the Brexit deal Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with the EU. Kelvin Chan, The Seattle Times, "Grassroots tech group takes startup approach to fight Brexit," 26 Mar. 2019 The Sonos One pretty successfully combines the smarts of Alexa with sound quality that’s far superior to Amazon’s first-party efforts (although its promised Google Assistant support has been delayed to 2019). Jon Porter, The Verge, "Sonos’ Black Friday deals feature the One and Beam speakers," 14 Nov. 2018

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

Statistics for delay

Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for delay

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


standardized text or formulaic language

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!