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 In the end, the layoff may have been beneficial in a variety of ways. New York Times, 8 Apr. 2021 From being laid off to employing 25 therapists One business started after a layoff was North Star Behavioral Consultants, which provides therapy services primarily to people with autism in Washington state. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 31 Mar. 2021 With state lawmakers in a stalemate over school funding and budget deadlines approaching, many schools have begun sending out layoff notices, in some cases by the dozens. Erin Golden, Star Tribune, 29 Apr. 2021 Last month, officials sent out 163 layoff warnings to full-time teachers, and expect to lay off an additional 447 part-time teachers for next fall, slashing hundreds of classes in the process. Emma Talley, San Francisco Chronicle, 22 Apr. 2021 The board approved its second interim budget and fiscal stabilization plan, which includes authorization of preliminary layoff notices to staff. Laura Groch, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Mar. 2021 Workers who already got layoff notices received word Tuesday that their jobs could be spared and reacted with a mix of relief and skepticism. Mallory Moench,, 22 Dec. 2020 Of the 58,000 people who work for the airline nationally and at foreign destinations, slightly more than 6,800 people received layoff notices. David Lyons,, 4 Dec. 2020 Her official layoff notices have not been sent out yet, although Portes expects to receive one and has been furloughed since the pandemic struck. Gabrielle Russon,, 19 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Its 737 Max was grounded for most of the year after two deadly crashes, the pandemic decimated its business, and the company announced plans to lay off 30,000 workers and reported a $12 billion loss. New York Times, 24 Apr. 2021 The uptick in violence is being highlighted by the city’s police union, which is criticizing City Hall officials for preparing a plan to lay off hundreds of police officers to help solve the city’s budget woes. Dakota Smith, Los Angeles Times, 16 Dec. 2020 After spending most of the past eight years trying to hire employees in Boston’s hypercompetitive talent market and in other US cities, Toast decided in early April 2020 to lay off half of its staff — about 1,300 people., 16 May 2021 The pandemic forced some businesses to close and others to lay off workers, causing a ripple effect through Cleveland’s economy. Robert Higgs, cleveland, 3 May 2021 Last month, officials sent out 163 layoff warnings to full-time teachers, and expect to lay off an additional 447 part-time teachers for next fall, slashing hundreds of classes in the process. Emma Talley, San Francisco Chronicle, 22 Apr. 2021 But school districts and the statewide teachers union insisted that would dramatically underfund K-12 schools and force districts to lay off teachers. oregonlive, 15 May 2021 That and other consolidation efforts led WarnerMedia to lay off more than 2,000 employees. Joe Flint, WSJ, 14 May 2021 The sudden revenue loss caused tribes to lay off thousands of tribal employees and cut or scale back programs and services for tribal members. Sarah Volpenhein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 13 May 2021

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

4 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Layoff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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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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