lay·​off | \ˈlā-ˌȯf \

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


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


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


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 store began layoffs and closing procedures at Edens Plaza last month, after parent company The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. was forced into liquidation in April. Kathy Routliffe,, "Despite big ticket losses, Wilmette retail vacancies still low, board members told," 12 July 2018 The Houston energy services company, a subsidiary of General Electric Co. of Boston, reported the layoffs at its Schertz location to the state in a workforce adjustment and retraining notification or WARN notice Friday. Rye Druzin, San Antonio Express-News, "Baker Hughes to lay off hundreds at closing Schertz facility," 22 June 2018 The state filing says that layoffs at Chicago-area stores will begin June 5. Mike Nolan, Daily Southtown, "Carson's closings to bring almost 800 job cuts in south, southwest suburbs," 15 May 2018 The production halt has a significant effect on workers—Ford sent home almost 3,600 at its Kansas City plant earlier this week, while another 4,000 face temporary layoffs at its Dearborn, Mich. facility. Alan Murray, Fortune, "AI, ZTE, RBS and BT: CEO Daily for May 10, 2018," 10 May 2018 Officials at Pala declined several interview requests and wouldn’t detail the number of layoffs at the North County resort. Michele Parente,, "Is San Diego's casino industry over-saturated?," 3 Mar. 2018 The letter said layoffs at the Sacramento County facilities included six at 2180 Harvard St., 32 at 3946 Norwood Ave. sacbee, "Nearly 100 Roseville workers losing jobs," 10 Jan. 2018 USA Today adds that that score was her highest since returning to competition after a year layoff. Krystin Arneson, Glamour, "Simone Biles Just Dominated the World Championship Qualifiers—After a Trip to the ER," 27 Oct. 2018 See also: Meet the Louisville bar owner putting a bourbon twist on the traditional tiki drink 8th race DON'T TELL MARGE was extremely impressive breaking her maiden in her first try over the turf course while coming off of an eight-month layoff. Mike Battaglia, The Courier-Journal, "Oddsmaker Mike Battaglia's free picks for Saturday at Churchill Downs," 29 June 2018

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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Statistics for layoff

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for layoff

The first known use of layoff was in 1748

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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



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with layoff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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a nest or breeding place

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