way·​lay | \ ˈwā-ˌlā How to pronounce waylay (audio) \
waylaid\ ˈwā-​ˌlād How to pronounce waylaid (audio) \; waylaying; waylays

Definition of waylay

transitive verb

1 : to lie in wait for or attack (someone) from ambush … he had been waylaid, bound hand and foot, and thrown into a marsh. But he got out again, somehow, to cause a great deal of trouble yet.— Charles Dickens
2 : to temporarily stop the movement or progress of (someone or something) The barkeeper, Tony, would come out of his saloon and wait to waylay the men going home. He could always entice a man with a full pocket into his saloon.— Meridel Le Sueur I can get waylaid by tangential thoughts and associations in mid-sentence, and this leads to parentheses, subordinate clauses, sentences of paragraphic length. I never use one adjective if six seem to me better and, in their cumulative effect, more incisive.— Oliver Sacks

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Synonyms for waylay


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Examples of waylay in a Sentence

Gangs sometimes waylay travelers on that road. We were waylaid by a group of kids with water balloons.
Recent Examples on the Web Though waylaid by two season-ending injuries in college, Stefon shined at the University of Maryland before the Minnesota Vikings selected him in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Alabama CB Trevon Diggs draws support from brother Stefon, but he's ready to match up against Vikings WR in NFL," 28 Feb. 2020 The committee's probe has been waylaid by political maneuvers, including the White House barring administration witnesses from appearing before Congress. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for March 11: Biden, coronavirus, Russia, Mueller report, climate," 11 Mar. 2020 The closest tugboat that could handle a job of that size was 200 miles north in Astoria and was waylaid by weather. oregonlive, "Napalm, a torpedo and 70,000 gallons of spilled oil: An environmental disaster on the Oregon coast, 21 years later," 4 Feb. 2020 Jury duty in the Senate waylaid three of the top contenders for most of the final two weeks before the caucuses. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "First Iowa results show Buttigieg with slight delegate lead over Sanders; Warren 3rd, Biden 4th," 4 Feb. 2020 The proposal piggybacks on plans by former Gov. Jerry Brown, who wanted to build a pair of 30-mile-long tunnels through the delta but was waylaid by funding shortfalls and controversy. Kurtis Alexander, SFChronicle.com, "1 is better than none — California moves toward single water tunnel under delta," 15 Jan. 2020 Rural Texas cannibals waylay yuppie motorists driving from Los Angeles to Florida. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV for Oct. 6-12: ‘Throne of Blood’ and more," 4 Oct. 2019 The fact that three of the contenders, the senators, were waylaid by an impeachment trial for two critical weeks added to the uncertainty. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "'I wish I felt excited about Biden’: Iowans don’t love former VP but he’s safe 2d choice in caucuses," 3 Feb. 2020 Some in the Chinese American community have had their Lunar New Year holiday plans waylaid, as travel schedules for the coming week and beyond get interrupted. Chris Buckley, BostonGlobe.com, "Effects of coronavirus begin echoing far from China epicenter," 25 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'waylay.' 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 waylay

1513, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for waylay

Time Traveler

The first known use of waylay was in 1513

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Statistics for waylay

Last Updated

28 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Waylay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/waylay. Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for waylay


How to pronounce waylay (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of waylay

: to stop (someone who is going somewhere)
: to attack (someone or something) by surprise from a hidden place


way·​lay | \ ˈwā-ˌlā How to pronounce waylay (audio) \
waylaid\ -​ˌlād \; waylaying

Kids Definition of waylay

: to attack from hiding

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More from Merriam-Webster on waylay

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with waylay

Spanish Central: Translation of waylay

Nglish: Translation of waylay for Spanish Speakers

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