way·​lay | \ ˈwā-ˌlā How to pronounce waylay (audio) \
waylaid\ ˈwā-​ˌlād How to pronounce waylay (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 Most are not based in Washington, and would have no opportunity to waylay him in the Senate hallways. Paul Cobler, Dallas News, "Is Cornyn too busy for weekly calls with Texas media, or just cautious in heat of campaign?," 19 Aug. 2020 Across the country, artists, playwrights, dancers and authors are grappling with seeing their projects waylaid, many of which took months or years to realize. Max Lakin, New York Times, "It Was Their Big Debut. Then a Pandemic Hit.," 17 Mar. 2020 Efforts to expand public transit in San Antonio and the fate of a plan to protect the city’s cleanest source of drinking water have been waylaid by the spread of COVID-19. Joshua Fechter, ExpressNews.com, "Push for expanded public transit in San Antonio hits another potential roadblock: COVID-19," 20 Apr. 2020 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

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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Cite this Entry

“Waylay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/waylay. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on waylay

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Nglish: Translation of waylay for Spanish Speakers

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