[de.lay] n (13c) 1 a: the act of delaying: the state of being delayed b: an instance of being delayed
2: the time during which something is delayed
delay vb [ME, fr. OF delaier, fr. de- + laier to leave, perh. alter. of laissier, fr. L laxare to slacken, fr. laxus loose--more at slack] vt (14c) 1: put off, postpone
2: to stop, detain, or hinder for a time ~ vi: to move or act slowly; also: to cause delay -- de.lay.er n syn delay, retard, slow, slacken, detain mean to cause to be late or behind in movement or progress. delay implies a holding back, usu. by interference, from completion or arrival "bad weather delayed our arrival". retard suggests reduction of speed without actual stopping "language barriers retarded their progress". slow and slacken also imply a reduction of speed, slow often suggesting deliberate intention "medication slowed the patient's heart rate", slacken an easing up or relaxing of power or effort "on hot days runners slacken their pace". detain implies a holding back beyond a reasonable or appointed time "unexpected business had detained her". syn delay, procrastinate, lag, loiter, dawdle, dally mean to move or act slowly so as to fall behind. delay usu. implies a putting off (as a beginning or departure) "we cannot delay any longer". procrastinate implies blameworthy delay esp. through laziness or apathy "procrastinates about making decisions". lag implies failure to maintain a speed set by others "lagging behind in technology". loiter and dawdle imply delay while in progress, esp. in walking, but dawdle more clearly suggests an aimless wasting of time "loitered at several store windows" "children dawdling on their way home from school". dally suggests delay through trifling or vacillation when promptness is necessary "stop dallying and get to work".