lay·​off | \ ˈlā-ˌȯf How to pronounce layoff (audio) \

Definition of layoff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a period of inactivity or idleness
2 : the act of laying off an employee or a workforce also : shutdown

lay off

laid off; laying off; lays off

Definition of lay off (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to mark or measure off
2 : to cease to employ (a worker) often temporarily
3 of a bookie : to place all or part of (an accepted bet) with another bookie to reduce the risk
4a : to leave undisturbed
b : avoid, quit was advised to lay off smoking and alcohol
c : to refrain from swinging at (a pitch)

intransitive verb

1 : to stop doing or taking something
2 : to leave one alone wish you'd just lay off

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of layoff in a Sentence

Noun The company announced the layoff of several hundred employees. More layoffs are expected at the factory later this year. The band finally has a new album after a three year layoff. a layoff of three years Verb you need to lay off eating those jelly doughnuts, or you'll end up looking like one
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Can the Rams overcome their quarterback issues? Struggling starter Jared Goff could return this week after a one-game layoff following thumb surgery. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Fourteen teams are in the NFL playoffs this season. Here is a burning questions facing each team.," 6 Jan. 2021 Roethlisberger isn’t concerned about history repeating itself, pointing out this layoff won’t be as long. Mark Heim |, al, "Steelers vs. Browns live stream (1/3): How to watch NFL Week 17 online, TV, time," 3 Jan. 2021 As long a layoff as the Detroit Red Wings have had as an organization, Danny DeKeyser’s dates back more than a year. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "How heavy a load can Detroit Red Wings' Danny DeKeyser carry after missing a year?," 1 Jan. 2021 Initial claims represent the number of workers seeking jobless claims for the first time, and are used by economists as an approximation of new layoff activity. NBC News, "Weekly jobless claims fall to 803,000," 23 Dec. 2020 The Ducks, who ended last season one spot ahead of the Kings in the standings and will also be coming off a 10-month layoff, open their season with a two-game series in Vegas on Jan. 14 and 16. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, "Five Kings-Ducks games in 12 days? NHL announces its pandemic-altered schedule," 23 Dec. 2020 But after four preseason games, the Bulls finally kicked off their 2020-21 season against the Atlanta Hawks, returning from an extended layoff to empty seats because of coronavirus. Jamal Collier,, "The Chicago Bulls returned to the United Center for their season opener, officially experiencing empty stands for the first time in a 124-104 loss to the Atlanta Hawks," 23 Dec. 2020 The Skippers desire has been fueled by a 26-day layoff that ended Thursday with a win over East Jefferson. Joseph Halm,, "Boys soccer: Mandeville turns up intensity in 2nd half to beat Brother Martin," 19 Dec. 2020 Like Alvarez, Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) is coming off a lengthy layoff. John Whisler,, "Oh brother! British champ Callum Smith faces tall task vs. Canelo Alvarez," 17 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The sharp decline forced some hotels to close temporarily or lay off the majority of their staff. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive, "2020 in review: Pandemic brought economic catastrophe for many Oregonians – but others thrived," 29 Dec. 2020 Marathon Petroleum announced plans in August to shut down its operations in the area and lay off more than 200 workers — roughly 1 percent of the city’s population. New York Times, "The Place Hit Hardest by the Virus," 27 Dec. 2020 Unlike some other transit agencies, RTA in 2021 does not expect to cut service or lay off workers without additional federal aid. Courtney Astolfi, cleveland, "RTA urges federal government to provide more coronavirus aid for public transit," 9 Dec. 2020 Eventually, Tanner threatened to declare a state of emergency and lay off the entire police and fire departments. Shane Bauer, The New Yorker, "How a Deadly Police Force Ruled a City," 16 Nov. 2020 The company did not furlough or lay off any employees when dining rooms were closed. Cheryl Hall, Dallas News, "Meet the 13 companies that have made the Top 100 Places to Work list nine times or more," 12 Nov. 2020 United Way's revenue peaked in 2014 at $102 million but by 2017, revenue fell to about $76 million, prompting United Way to cut grants and lay off nine employees. Kelly Smith, Star Tribune, "Greater Twin Cities United Way's revenue continues decline, dropping $7 million in 2019," 10 Nov. 2020 Golden Gate Bridge to raise tolls or lay off workers in pandemic financial crisis. Taylor Kate Brown,, "Bay Briefing: The Bay Area experts on Biden’s coronavirus task force," 10 Nov. 2020 If businesses close and have to furlough or lay off employees, new filers won't get the additional federal benefits like many did earlier on in the pandemic. Adrienne Roberts, Detroit Free Press, "New Michigan jobless claims drop to levels not seen since before the pandemic," 22 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'layoff.' 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 layoff


1889, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1748, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about layoff

Time Traveler for layoff

Time Traveler

The first known use of layoff was in 1748

See more words from the same year

Statistics for layoff

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Layoff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for layoff


How to pronounce lay off (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of layoff

: the act of ending the employment of a worker or group of workers
: a period of time during which there is no activity

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on layoff

What made you want to look up layoff? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

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


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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