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

Gogo employed about 1,200 people before the layoffs. Ally Marotti,, "Gogo lays off 55 as it seeks to turn around struggling in-flight Wi-Fi business," 13 July 2018 The layoffs come after 14 editorial employees lost their jobs in late-May, which Pape had also attributed to economic factors. Express-news Staff, San Antonio Express-News, "Express-News lays off 20 employees," 12 July 2018 The layoffs don't appear to have impacted those with the title of executive vp or higher and possibly have not affected those with titles of senior vp. Pamela Mcclintock, The Hollywood Reporter, "Sony Pictures Issues Layoffs as Part of Marketing Reorganization," 11 July 2018 Employee Ian Gallagher said morale suffered at BP when the layoffs began, but that those who have remained have embraced the changes. Christopher M. Matthews, WSJ, "Oil’s New Technology Spells End of Boom for Roughnecks," 10 July 2018 Despite the excitement, memories of the 2015 layoffs loom large, and the economic effects still linger. Samantha Bomkamp,, "In this small steel town, Trump's tariffs have been met with a sigh of relief," 9 July 2018 What followed was grim: dozens of school closings and the layoffs of 3,783 more employees, including aides, counselors, even assistant principals., "For Philly's new school board: Lessons from the SRC's 17 years," 1 July 2018 Just seven months after opening its new paper tape plant, the machines now stand idle, shutting down alongside the layoffs. NBC News, "Trump's trade war might close down America's last nail factory — but workers remain diehard Trump fans," 29 June 2018 The son of Lookin At Lucky ran a solid second off the 11-month layoff on May 3 and then got caught up in a four-horse speed duel before fading to fifth versus better last time out. Scott Shapiro, The Courier-Journal, "'s free expert pick for Friday at Churchill Downs," 28 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

12 Oct 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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Comments on layoff

What made you want to look up layoff? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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