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

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
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun She was then shut down most of December with a lingering foot issue, missing three games in all before returning when the Huskies got back from an extended layoff due to COVID-19 issues. Alexa Philippou,, 17 Feb. 2022 Colombia's James Rodriguez came on as a second-half substitute after an injury layoff, but was unable to spark a home revival before the Hammers made the late breakthrough. Paul Gittings, CNN, 1 Jan. 2021 But dull performances in his ensuing two starts prompted a layoff that has lasted 29 months. Larry Stumes, San Francisco Chronicle, 29 Apr. 2022 The Trump restrictions and record-low ceilings led the U.S. organizations that assist refugees to layoff personnel and close offices across the country, gutting the domestic resettlement infrastructure. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, 27 Apr. 2022 Seppala was laid off from Better Mortgage in December of 2021, part of a mass layoff that was executed during a Zoom meeting, and is still looking for work. Hugo Martín, Anchorage Daily News, 12 Apr. 2022 At the same time, 98 workers at the company’s Sterling Stamping Plant in Sterling Heights will be on indefinite layoff beginning Monday, according to the company and a letter to members from a local union official. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, 25 Mar. 2022 Eventually, that layoff took a toll on his physical and mental health. Brett Williams, Men's Health, 25 Apr. 2022 Seppala was laid off from Better Mortgage in December of 2021, part of a mass layoff that was executed during a Zoom meeting, and is still looking for work. Hugo Martín, Anchorage Daily News, 12 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Travel ground to a halt, prompting hotels, museums and other tourist attractions to lay off their workers by the tens of thousands. Mike Rogoway | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 27 Mar. 2022 Money acquired through these loans are meant to help businesses maintain payroll at a time in which revenues are still low and some industries have needed to lay off workers. Tyler Arnold, Washington Examiner, 29 Mar. 2021 When companies decide to lay off employees, the decision may be driven by losses, cost savings and process efficiencies. Nuala Walsh, Forbes, 4 May 2022 Early in 2020, a tearful Brown posted a video explaining how he’d been forced to lay off a bunch of his crew because tours were stalled indefinitely. Jon Freeman, Rolling Stone, 21 Apr. 2022 The Journal this week reported on the company’s plan to lay off thousands of employees, including about a fifth of the staff at its cloud unit, one of its fastest-growing businesses. Keith Zhai And Yifan Wang, WSJ, 23 Mar. 2022 While many businesses were forced to shutter their doors and lay off their workforce in the early days of the pandemic, Amazon had an entirely different situation on its hands. Patrick Moorhead, Forbes, 2 Sep. 2021 Spaulding also acknowledged that Stitch Fix has faced hard times that required it to lay off 1,400 employees in June, but said the company is recovering. Fortune Staff, Fortune, 14 Oct. 2020 Qwik was on the brink of collapse in the early days of the COVID pandemic when the startup was forced to lay off roughly 80% of its staff. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, 5 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

23 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Layoff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on layoff

Nglish: Translation of layoff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of layoff for Arabic Speakers


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