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

transitive verb

: 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
: 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

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 The inaugural crewed flight of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner, meant to compete with the likes of Elon Musk's SpaceX spacecraft, was waylaid by a series of technical issues. Mary Walrath-Holdridge, USA TODAY, 10 July 2024 But when she was waylaid by a debilitating loss of momentum, the issue of how to sustain her vocation took on greater urgency. Meara Sharma, Washington Post, 9 July 2024 Plans for apartments, Caltrans District 3 offices and mixed-use plans all came and went, waylaid by the high cost of renovation. Darrell Smith, Sacramento Bee, 3 July 2024 Johnny Depp plays a man sent to a town called Machine for a job as an accountant, but gets waylaid in a gunfight and ends up on a vision quest with the help of a Native American calling himself Nobody. and Kevin Jacobsen, EW.com, 21 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for waylay 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'waylay.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1513, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of waylay was in 1513

Dictionary Entries Near waylay

Cite this Entry

“Waylay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/waylay. Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


way·​lay ˈwā-ˌlā How to pronounce waylay (audio)
waylaid -ˌlād How to pronounce waylay (audio) ; waylaying
: to attack from a hiding place

More from Merriam-Webster on waylay

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