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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The decision has resulted in 20 layoffs in its bikes and scooters team, which consists of about 400 people. Fernando Alfonso Iii, CNN, "Lyft is pulling its scooters from cities across the US," 18 Nov. 2019 In the other states, data through June did not yet show a sharp rise in layoffs. Washington Post, "Unemployment is climbing in key swing states, including Michigan and Wisconsin," 4 Nov. 2019 But in the other states, data through June did not yet show a sharp rise in layoffs. Andrew Van Dam, Twin Cities, "Unemployment is climbing in swing states, including Minnesota and Wisconsin," 4 Nov. 2019 In contrast to other acquisitions of local companies that result in layoffs, Toland said, Siemens plans to retain employees and expand operations in Waltham with hires of more mechanical and software engineers., "A Waltham medical technology firm that makes robots for precision vascular surgery has been bought by the health division of the German conglomerate Siemens for $1.1 billion.," 30 Oct. 2019 Last spring, Post Acute Medical closed two of its branches in Corpus Christi, resulting in the layoffs of 200 people, but the company has added locations in other parts of the region. Laura Garcia,, "San Antonio long-term acute care hospital changes ownership," 1 Oct. 2019 More than 1,000 employees lost their jobs this year in layoffs at BuzzFeed, AOL, Yahoo, HuffPost and Vice Media. Marc Tracy, New York Times, "Vox Media Acquires New York Magazine, Chronicler of the Highbrow and Lowbrow," 24 Sep. 2019 Requiring housekeepers to clean more rooms per shift would increase injuries many already suffer as a result of hauling dirty linens and other physical tasks, and would result in layoffs, workers say. Alexia Elejalde-ruiz,, "Thousands of workers at 26 Chicago hotels went on strike in September 2018. A year later, at one hotel they’re still walking picket lines.," 12 Sep. 2019 The layoffs are the latest blow to a region on the edge of the Rust Belt that hasn’t fully benefited from the economic recovery that President Donald Trump — who attended a private campaign fundraiser in Wheeling in July — has touted. Washington Post, "Hospital closings hit hard on the edge of the Rust Belt," 8 Sep. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of layoff


1889, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1748, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Time Traveler for layoff

Time Traveler

The first known use of layoff was in 1748

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Statistics for layoff

Last Updated

23 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Layoff.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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More Definitions for layoff



Financial Definition of layoff

What It Is

A layoff is a temporary or permanent termination of employment by an employer.

How It Works

Let's say John Doe works for Company XYZ. He has worked there for 15 years. Company XYZ begins having cash flow problems and has to reduce its labor expense in order to avoid going out of business. In turn, it decides to shed 1,000 workers, of which John is one. This mass termination is called a layoff.

A layoff is not the same as being fired. Firings typically occur when an employee is at fault or has disobeyed company policies; terminations are not necessarily a direct reflection of a particular employee's performance (although it takes a village to wreck a company).

Why It Matters

From an investing standpoint, layoffs indicate a struggling company and thus are red flags for their investors. Layoffs can be surprises to people, and they are one of many reasons that investors should have emergency funds on hand at all times.

However, people often get some indication that a layoff is coming. The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires employers to provide 60 days' notice (sometimes more) of plant closings and mass layoffs. However, this applies to companies with more than 100 employees (and that 100 generally cannot include people who have been with the company for fewer than six months or part-timers).

Source: Investing Answers


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on layoff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for layoff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with layoff

Spanish Central: Translation of layoff

Nglish: Translation of layoff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of layoff for Arabic Speakers

Comments on layoff

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very cautious or careful

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