Meaning of DELAY in English

I. de ‧ lay 1 W3 /dɪˈleɪ/ BrE AmE noun

1 . [countable] when someone or something has to wait, or the length of the waiting time:

Sorry for the delay, Mr Weaver.

delay in

Why was there a delay in warning the public?

delay of

a delay of about an hour

long/considerable/slight etc delay

Long delays are expected on the motorways.

2 . [uncountable] when something does not happen or start when it should do

without delay

They must restore normal services without delay.

There can be no excuse for any further delay.

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▪ a slight/short delay

There was a slight delay in the departure of the plane.

▪ a long/lengthy delay

Patients often face long delays in getting the treatment they need.

▪ a considerable/serious delay (=very long)

After a considerable delay, the report was finally published.

▪ a 20-minute/6-month/4-week etc delay

A train had broken down, causing a two-hour delay.

▪ traffic delays

The roadworks are likely to cause serious traffic delays.

▪ flight delays

Unfortunately flight delays do sometimes occur.

■ verbs

▪ cause/lead to a delay

The bad weather caused a three-hour delay in sending out rescue helicopters.

▪ experience delays

People are experiencing considerable delays in receiving their mail.

▪ face delays (=be likely to experience them)

Commuters face long delays as a result of the rail strikes.

▪ reduce delays (=make them shorter and less frequent)

The new rules should reduce delays in bringing prisoners to trial.

■ phrases

▪ a series of delays (=a number of delays)

After a series of delays and setbacks, the project was finally approved.

II. delay 2 W3 BrE AmE verb

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: delaier , from laier 'to leave' ]

1 . [intransitive and transitive] to wait until a later time to do something:

Don’t delay – send off for the information now.

He delayed his decision on whether to call an election.

delay something until something

The opening of this section of the road is delayed until September.

delay something for something

Our meeting was delayed for ten minutes.

delay doing something

Big companies often delay paying their bills.

2 . [transitive] to make someone or something late

seriously/badly/slightly etc delayed

The flight was badly delayed because of fog.

—delayed adjective

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▪ delay to wait until a later time to do something:

He decided to delay his decision until he had seen the full report.

▪ postpone to change an event to a later time or date:

The meeting was postponed.

▪ put off to delay doing something. Put off is less formal than delay or postpone , and is the usual phrase to use in everyday English:

I used to put off making difficult decisions.


The game has been put off till next week.

▪ hold off to delay doing something, especially while you are waiting for more information or for something else to happen:

House buyers seem to be holding off until interest rates drop.

▪ defer formal to delay doing something until a later date, usually because something else needs to happen first:

The decision had been deferred until after a meeting of the directors.


She decided to defer her university application for a year so that she could go travelling.

▪ procrastinate /prəˈkræstəneɪt, prəˈkræstɪneɪt/ formal to delay doing something that you ought to do:

Don’t procrastinate – make a start on your assignments as soon as you get them.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.