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

Iowa State returned from the 50-minute delay to take the lead on Deshaunte Jones' 51-yard touchdown pass to La'Michael Pettway. Jenna West,, "Iowa State Students Rush Field at Jack Trice Stadium During Weather Delay," 14 Sep. 2019 The airport closed its busiest runway, 28L, on Sept. 7 for 20 days of repairs, leading to more than 1,000 flight delays and hundreds of cancellations. Matthias Gafni,, "SFO: The typo that almost crashed a plane," 13 Sep. 2019 Bainbridge scored one off a quarterback sneak before the weather delay near the end of the third quarter., "No. 18 Stow upsets No. 6 Solon, 50-19, hands Comets worst loss since 2014," 13 Sep. 2019 Skip to main content The 2019 NFL season now has its first weather delay. Usa Today Sports, USA TODAY, "Buccaneers, Panthers called off field due to lightning delay," 13 Sep. 2019 Travelers should expect lane closures and delays through the end of September. oregonlive, "Portland metro Friday traffic: Rain extends I-5 paving project hours near Salem," 13 Sep. 2019 That’s because Gavin Hood’s film, about whistleblower Katharine Gun, who risked everything in an ultimately quixotic attempt to stop, or at least delay, the invasion of Iraq, never takes its focus off what’s really important here: the truth. Bill Goodykoontz, Detroit Free Press, "‘Official Secrets’ revisits an Iraq war drama that rocked Britain," 12 Sep. 2019 But the West would gain safe access to cutting-edge 5G technologies, avoiding roll-out delays. The Economist, "Huawei has made a peace offering that deserves consideration," 12 Sep. 2019 The train continued its route after a 45-minute delay. Cristóbal Reyes,, "SunRail train hits car in Winter Park, leaves man injured, cops say," 12 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The promotion of Prince Abdulaziz is a sign that the government wants to accelerate Aramco’s delayed IPO. The Economist, "Business this week," 14 Sep. 2019 Foster’s concerns for the community include having safe roadway exits during a fire and having adequate numbers of ambulances when some ambulances get delayed at the hospitals. Ramona Sentinel, "Planning group selects Perfect to fill vacancy," 13 Sep. 2019 Thunderstorms in Chicago O’Hare also triggered more delays, delaying or canceling more than 1,800 flights Thursday, FlightAware reported. Mallory Moench,, "SFO delays worsen at end of week despite faster runway construction," 13 Sep. 2019 One way to change that would be to reuse the carbon as fuel, but that only delays its release; another would be a price on carbon itself. Andrew Blum, Time, "The Tech Innovations We Need to Happen if We're Going to Survive Climate Change," 12 Sep. 2019 The filing doesn’t say why LeedCo delayed in paying the bill. Andrew J. Tobias,, "Planned Lake Erie wind farm back on track after fee paid," 12 Sep. 2019 Walsh put aside $652,713 on his list, but recommended delaying pay increases for those contract employees until a more structured plan is developed and analyzed. Sara Cline,, "City finds itself with $7.8 million budget windfall," 12 Sep. 2019 Milik had been closing in on an imminent return to first-team action but suffered a setback in his recovery, delaying his return to training., "Key Napoli Duo Still Doubtful for Liverpool Champions League Clash With Injuries," 12 Sep. 2019 The Battle of Wake Island, the Alamo of the Pacific, is mostly overlooked today — though it was rightly celebrated after the outbreak of World War II, for Americans’ repulsing and then delaying of the Japanese. Nr Editors, National Review, "Letters," 12 Sep. 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.

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

17 Sep 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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!