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

Definition of waylay

transitive verb

: to lie in wait for or attack from ambush

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Synonyms for waylay


ambuscade, ambush, surprise (also surprize)

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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

Leading the revival, alongside Michael Cera and Lucas Hedges, is the 86-year-old Elaine May, playing an octogenarian gallerist waylaid by Alzheimer’s disease. Marley Marius, Vogue, "Elaine May Is Back on Broadway, and Not a Moment Too Soon," 26 Oct. 2018 What might be done to waylay any further evidence of linkages? Sean Illing, Vox, "What does Michael Cohen’s plea deal mean for Trump? I asked 9 legal experts.," 29 Nov. 2018 Mirroring the poll results, many prominent white evangelicals have spoken out in Kavanaugh’s defense, characterizing the allegations against him as part of a liberal plot to waylay his nomination. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "Poll: 48% of white evangelicals would support Kavanaugh even if the allegations against him were true," 27 Sep. 2018 Aside from 2008, when Brady was waylaid by a knee injury on opening day, the last time New England failed to win the AFC East was 2002. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "Patriots training camp questions: Will rocky offseason carry over for AFC champions?," 13 July 2018 That actor, John Carroll Lynch, stars as Early, a quiet insurance man in small-town Mississippi who has been waylaid by the death of his wife of 26 years. Timothy Mcneil, New York Times, "Review: ‘Anything’ Finds a Small-Town Man Baffled by the Big City," 10 May 2018 The heavily armed men who waylaid the three on a street identified themselves as cops. Patrick J. Mcdonnell, latimes.com, "In echo of Parkland shooting outrage, anger rises in Mexico after film students were killed and dissolved in acid," 24 Apr. 2018 Blues Traveler did have other things on its collective mind -- including three management changes in a short span of time that waylaid the quintet's forward progress. Gary Graff, Billboard, "Blues Traveler Shares 'Accelerated Nation' Lyric Video From Upcoming Album: Premiere," 13 July 2018 Convention center, homeless, roads How the county election initiative got waylaid was confounding but the issue with the hotel-tax measure is downright baffling. Michael Smolens, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Why San Diego's marquee initiatives might not make the ballot," 29 June 2018

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 above

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Dictionary Entries near waylay







way mail

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Time Traveler for waylay

The first known use of waylay was in 1513

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More Definitions for waylay



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with waylay

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for waylay

Spanish Central: Translation of waylay

Nglish: Translation of waylay for Spanish Speakers

Comments on waylay

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


a tendency to relapse

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