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 Drew said the lack of quality practice time during the layoff, then afterward when Baylor was playing almost every other day, took its toll on the team’s defense. Mark Heim |, al, "Gonzaga-Baylor live stream (4/5): How to watch Final Four championship online, TV info, time," 5 Apr. 2021 Drew said the lack of quality practice time during the layoff, then afterward when Baylor was playing almost every other day, took its toll on the team’s defense. Eddie Pells, San Francisco Chronicle, "Gonzaga's last hurdles: a quick turnaround - and Baylor," 4 Apr. 2021 Drew said the lack of quality practice time during the layoff, then afterward when Baylor was playing almost every other day, took its toll on the team's defense. Eddie Pells, ajc, "Gonzaga's last hurdles: a quick turnaround -- and Baylor," 4 Apr. 2021 Drummond hasn't played since Feb. 12 but said he's stayed in shape during the layoff. Matt Eppers, USA TODAY, "Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns gets emotional boost from dad attending first game since mom's death," 30 Mar. 2021 Not only were the Cavs building positive momentum, but help was on the way, as both Larry Nance Jr. and Kevin Love were expected back following the nine-day layoff. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Playoffs? Cleveland Cavaliers come out of the break thinking big, but how likely is it after back-to-back blowout losses?," 15 Mar. 2021 Having taken a year-long break from competitions amid the pandemic, Ledecky has recently returned to racing and showed few signs of rustiness from the layoff. Coy Wire And George Ramsay, CNN, "Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky on training in a backyard pool and her aspirations for Tokyo 2020," 10 Mar. 2021 The layoff should also offer forward LaMarcus Aldridge a chance to shake the stomach bug that kept him out for the final two games of the first half. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "Break comes at the right time for Spurs," 5 Mar. 2021 Her mother had kept the layoff a secret from her daughters for months, not wanting to worry them, but now the family was behind on rent and facing eviction. Kiran Misra, The New Republic, "Death to the Inspirational News Story," 12 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Oct 9: With no fans allowed at Ford Field due to pandemic, Lions lay off business staff. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Coronavirus in Michigan: A timeline of how the pandemic unfolded since last year," 9 Mar. 2021 But while traditional brick-and-mortar jewelers struggled to survive, With Clarity did not lay off a single employee. Tanya Akim, Forbes, "Meet With Clarity, The Online Jewelry Brand That Lets You Try-On Before You Buy," 1 Mar. 2021 And please, folks, lay off the negative Yelp reviews. Keith Pandolfi, The Enquirer, "How to behave yourself in a restaurant during a pandemic, from proper mask use to patience," 19 Feb. 2021 American Airlines could temporarily lay off 2,760 people in Dallas-Fort Worth if more government aid doesn’t come through for the ailing travel industry. Dallas News, "American Airlines furloughs could include more than 2,700 in North Texas," 12 Feb. 2021 As a condition of the extension, the airline cannot lay off any more employees or cut pay or benefits through the end of March. Author: Dominic Gates, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska Air Group reports $1.3 billion loss in 2020 but forecasts strong recovery this year," 27 Jan. 2021 The board voted to lay off 146 workers, eliminate 59 vacant jobs and implement a 10% pay cut for management to cut costs, instead of raising revenue by hiking tolls. Mallory Moench,, "Golden Gate Transit workers spared from layoffs for now in anticipation of coronavirus relief funds," 23 Dec. 2020 Had all 49 judges been extended, the system would have had to lay off 324 nonjudicial employees, like court officers and clerks, for at least a year to find equivalent savings, a courts spokesman, Lucian Chalfen, said. Benjamin Weiser, New York Times, "New York Is Ousting Older Judges to Save Money. They’re Fighting Back.," 21 Dec. 2020 As a result, mayors confronting a plunge in sales tax revenue, with businesses and restaurants shuttered or scaling back their operations, have been forced to lay off public workers, cut department budgets and shelve plans to improve infrastructure. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, ""It doesn't have to be this way": Cities brace for more pain as lawmakers clash over COVID relief bill," 11 Dec. 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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Statistics for layoff

Last Updated

17 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Layoff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for layoff



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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