re·​lay | \ˈrē-ˌlā \

Definition of relay 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a supply (as of horses) arranged beforehand for successive relief

b : a number of persons who relieve others in some work worked in relays around the clock

2a : a race between teams in which each team member successively covers a specified portion of the course

b : one of the divisions of a relay

3 : an electromagnetic device for remote or automatic control that is actuated by variation in conditions of an electric circuit and that operates in turn other devices (such as switches) in the same or a different circuit

5 : the act of passing along (something, such as a message or ball) by stages also : one of such stages


verb (1)
re·​lay | \ˈrē-ˌlā, ri-ˈlā \
relayed; relaying

Definition of relay (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to place or dispose in relays

b : to provide with relays

2 : to pass along by relays news was relayed to distant points

3 : to control or operate by a relay


verb (2)
re·​lay | \(ˌ)rē-ˈlā \
relaid\-​ˈlād \; relaying

Definition of relay (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to lay again relay track

Examples of relay in a Sentence


Our relay team is training for next weekend's race. a satellite relay of a television signal We set up a relay to carry buckets of water to the campsite. They worked in relays to clear the rubble.
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First Known Use of relay


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (1)

1788, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (2)

1757, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for relay


Middle English, set of fresh hounds, from relayen

Verb (1)

Middle English, to release a set of fresh hounds, take a fresh horse, from Middle French relaier, from re- + laier to let go, leave — more at delay

Verb (2)

re- + lay entry 1

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Time Traveler for relay

The first known use of relay was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for relay



English Language Learners Definition of relay

: a race between teams in which each team member runs, swims, etc., a different part of the race

: the act of passing something from one person or device to another; also : a system for doing this

: a group of people, horses, etc., that takes the place of others so that something (such as a job or an activity) is done continuously


re·​lay | \ˈrē-ˌlā \

Kids Definition of relay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a race between teams in which each team member covers a certain part of the course

2 : the act of passing something from one person to the next

3 : a fresh supply (as of horses or people) arranged to relieve others


re·​lay | \ˈrē-ˌlā, ri-ˈlā\
relayed; relaying

Kids Definition of relay (Entry 2 of 2)

: to pass along by stages Please relay the message to the others.

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More from Merriam-Webster on relay

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with relay

Spanish Central: Translation of relay

Nglish: Translation of relay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of relay for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about relay

Comments on relay

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


a nest or breeding place

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