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 Companies that already would be seeing profits shrivel from the downturn would suddenly face higher interest rates, chilling investment, forcing layoffs and spreading pain throughout the economy. Author: David J. Lynch, Anchorage Daily News, "Corporate debt nears a record $10 trillion, and borrowing binge poses new risks," 30 Nov. 2019 Kaepernick, who worked out in a tank top and shorts, has clearly kept himself in good shape during his near three-year layoff., "Watch: Colin Kaepernick’s workout," 17 Nov. 2019 Kaepernick, who worked out in a tank top and shorts, has clearly kept himself in good shape during his near three-year layoff. Paul Newberry, Houston Chronicle, "Colin Kaepernick throws passes for 40 minutes in front of 8 teams," 16 Nov. 2019 More on Colin Kaepernick Kaepernick, who worked out in a tank top and shorts, has clearly kept himself in good shape during his nearly three-year layoff. Paul Newberry,, "49ers reportedly attend Colin Kaepernick’s strange 40-minute passing workout," 16 Nov. 2019 Reid is still the captain of New Zealand - who are ranked 121st in the world - despite his injury layoff, and is renowned for his leadership skills, which are something West Ham have lacked in recent games., "Winston Reid Finally Set for West Ham Injury Return Ahead of New Zealand Call-Up," 4 Nov. 2019 Just about every state in the Midwest can relate to layoffs and factory closings. cleveland, "The Democratic candidates should really discuss Flyover country issues at Tuesday’s Ohio debate: Analysis," 14 Oct. 2019 Flip-flop The Dodgers moved Walker Buehler from Sunday’s scheduled start to Saturday to shorten his layoff between games. Mike Digiovanna, Los Angeles Times, "Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill takes another step toward contributing in the NLDS," 20 Sep. 2019 Because his long layoff, Timmins appears destined to begin this season with the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League. Mike Chambers, The Denver Post, "Conor Timmins is healthy and happy after long layoff from hockey," 17 Sep. 2019

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

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Layoff.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 9 December 2019.

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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


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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More from Merriam-Webster on layoff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for layoff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with layoff

Spanish Central: Translation of layoff

Nglish: Translation of layoff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of layoff for Arabic Speakers

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