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 purchase of Brooks Brothers, where layoff notices have already started going out, has put a spotlight on this arrangement — and invited new scrutiny. Star Tribune, "U.S. mall operators buying up their own tenants out of bankruptcy," 8 Sep. 2020 For the technicians, stagehands and other production staff, the jazz fest is a chance to immerse in real work after a lengthy layoff. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Jazz Festival is moment of pride for artists, crew as massive virtual event launches," 4 Sep. 2020 Hornbuckle noted that federal law requires the company to send layoff notices to workers who have been furloughed for six months. Hamza Shaban, Washington Post, "MGM Resorts lays off 18,000 furloughed workers," 28 Aug. 2020 On Wednesday, as Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared in Orlando to talk up the tourism industry, major hotels in the area filed more layoff notices with the state Department of Economic Opportunity. David Lyons,, "Florida’s initial unemployment claims drop sharply to new COVID-19 low," 27 Aug. 2020 American said layoff notices were sent out Tuesday to 17,500 employees Under terms of the CARES Act, which provided up to $50 billion of help to the US airline industry, airlines could not lay off or involuntarily furlough staff until October 1. Chris Isidore, CNN, "American Airlines will lay off 19,000 workers if it doesn't get additional federal help," 25 Aug. 2020 In California, mass layoff notices filed with the state now show that about half the job cuts are permanent, up from 17% in May. Christopher Rugaber,, "‘I am feeling that this is the end of my career.’ Millions of US jobs are gone for good.," 5 Aug. 2020 With player development at the core of this rebuild, the Cavs have expressed concern that a long layoff would be detrimental to their young players. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cleveland Cavaliers could be headed to second ‘bubble’ of non-playoff teams in Chicago," 2 July 2020 While the layoff was tough, Lauterbach did put it to good use, stepping back and looking at her game from a different angle. Dave Kallmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Emily Lauterbach provides the latest 'W' for UW at the State Women's Open on a course she calls home," 17 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb With that money ending Sept. 30, the three biggest U.S. carriers are expected to furlough or lay off about 40,000 workers starting Oct. 1. David Koenig, Star Tribune, "Airlines, unions running out of time to get more federal aid," 10 Sep. 2020 The severe drop in customers has forced the couple to lay off several employees, so now every member of the Lee family is pitching in to keep the business from going under. Lisa Maria Garza,, "6 months of COVID-19: How 6 Central Florida businesses are surviving in the pandemic," 10 Sep. 2020 This particular outburst may have been a result of the stress the Ugly Delicious star endured after being forced to lay off hundreds of workers and close two of his 16 restaurants because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ana Calderone,, "Chef David Chang Opens Up About Bipolar I Disorder in New Memoir: 'It Has Shaped Me In So Many Ways'," 26 Aug. 2020 Many companies have said their CEOs and other top executives would take pay cuts in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic slashed financial forecasts and companies had to furlough or lay off workers. Washington Post, "Average CEO earnings soared to $21.3 million last year and could rise again in 2020 despite the coronavirus recession," 18 Aug. 2020 The department said it was forced to lay off more than 1,500 workers since the cuts went into effect on July 1. Dominick Mastrangelo, Washington Examiner, "'It’s just disgusting to look at': New Yorkers report garbage piling up in city parks as coronavirus forces budget cuts," 16 Aug. 2020 The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the U.S. economy, forcing many businesses to close and lay off workers. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, "Trump’s executive orders bring confusion, anxiety: A.M. News Links," 10 Aug. 2020 Yet as our most recent research shows, some companies are better inoculated than others from having to furlough or lay off people—namely, those that are most effectively managed. Kelly Tang, WSJ, "What Sets Some Companies Apart in the Current Crisis," 3 Aug. 2020 Airlines got up to $50 billion in help via the last stimulus package, but had to agree not to lay off employees until October 1 in order to tap the funds. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "The US is adding jobs. But the recovery could take years," 30 Aug. 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.

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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

19 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Layoff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2020.

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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

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