noun lay·off \ ˈlā-ˌȯf \
Updated on: 14 Apr 2018

Definition of layoff

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

Examples of layoff in a Sentence

  1. The company announced the layoff of several hundred employees.

  2. More layoffs are expected at the factory later this year.

  3. The band finally has a new album after a three year layoff.

  4. a layoff of three years

Recent Examples of layoff from the Web

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


layoff Synonyms

lay off


Definition of lay off

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
4 a : to leave undisturbed
b : avoid, quit
  • was advised to lay off smoking and alcohol
c : to refrain from swinging at (a pitch)
1 : to stop doing or taking something
2 : to leave one alone
  • wish you'd just lay off

Examples of lay off in a Sentence

  1. you need to lay off eating those jelly doughnuts, or you'll end up looking like one

First Known Use of lay off


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).

LAYOFF Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of layoff for English Language Learners

  • : the act of ending the employment of a worker or group of workers

  • : a period of time during which there is no activity

Seen and Heard

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to speak or write verbosely and windily

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