Meaning of DELAY in English

I. də̇ˈlā, dēˈ- noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English delaye, from Old French delaie, from delaier

1. : the act or practice of delaying : procrastination , lingering

delay in aircraft production

delay and uncertainty could cripple our industries


a. : the state or an instance of being delayed

the delays incident to diplomacy

b. : the time during which something is delayed

a delay of 30 minutes

II. verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English delayen, from Old French delaier, from de- + laier to leave, alteration of laissier, from Latin laxare to slacken, loosen, untie, from laxus slack, loose — more at slack

transitive verb

1. : to put off : prolong the time of or before : postpone , defer

we decided to delay our departure until the weather improved


a. : to stop, detain, or hinder for a time : check the motion of, lessen the progress of, or slow the time of arrival of

the mails were delayed by heavy snows

the upper house is delaying the passage of important bills

b. : to cause to be slower or to occur more slowly than normal : retard — usually used as a past participle

delayed resolution in pneumonia

a heavy child, delayed in walking

3. archaic : to put (a person) off : make (a person) wait (as for a payment due)

intransitive verb

: to move or act slowly, intermittently, or inconclusively


delay , retard , slow , slacken , and detain agree in meaning to make someone or something behind in schedule or usual rate of movement or progress. delay implies a holding back, as by interference, especially from completion or arrival

a storm delayed the ship for an hour

the opening of the school year had been delayed by an epidemic — American Guide Series: Minnesota

the symptoms of poisoning may be delayed for several days — H.G.Armstrong

a criminal court jury on which I served delayed a verdict all afternoon — C.G.Jameson

retard implies a reduction of speed or rate of motion often by interference

snow retarded the car considerably

shortages of labor continue to retard production — Americana Annual

other factors retarded progress toward a stable economy — Collier's Year Book

secrecy in research is bound to retard the growth of science as a whole — Hartley Shawcross

slow , often with down or up, and slacken also imply a reduction in speed or rate, slow often implying intention, slacken stressing an easing up, letting up, or relaxation of effort

as we turned into Compton Street together he slowed his step — G.W.Brace

lack of coordination in the past has slowed extensive conservation of water resources — American Guide Series: Texas

perhaps existence was slowing down a trifle — Sylvia Berkman

a bounty of $150 on every live Indian brought in somewhat slowed up the general shooting — Marjory S. Douglas

their rate of growth slackens as they age — L.P.Schultz

the river broadens, slackening its pace as it spreads out and turns — Ted Sumner

economic expansion had slackened — Oscar Handlin

detain implies a holding back or being held back beyond an appointed or reasonable time, whether deliberate or not

I slipped my arm around her slender body to detain her — W.H.Hudson †1922

on the voyage thither they were detained in Honolulu — R.S.Kuykendall

after being detained in England by the war then raging with Spain, White returned to Roanoke Island — American Guide Series: North Carolina


delay , procrastinate , lag , loiter , dawdle , dally , and dillydally mean, in common, to move or act slowly so that expected progress is not made or prospective work is left undone or unfinished. delay suggests putting off

do not delay in sending for your copies. Fill out the attached form today — Current History

genuine success seemed as usual to delay and postpone itself — Arnold Bennett

to delay foolishly until all opportunity is past

procrastinate suggests blameworthy delay as from laziness, indifference, or habitual inertia

to fumble, to vacillate, to procrastinate and so let war come creeping upon us almost unawares — W.A.White

to procrastinate in letter writing and lose friends

lag implies a failure to maintain a required or desirable speed

for half the race the one who finally won had lagged behind the others, conserving his strength

work on the fort had lagged — American Guide Series: Arkansas

confidence in the administration lagged until enemies of the regime were emboldened recently to attempt a revolution — P.P.Kennedy

loiter implies a delay while in progress, especially walking, often suggesting a lingering about or an aimless sauntering

a child loitering on the way to school

after breakfasting he walked down the hill and loitered about the little streets — Willa Cather

dawdle implies a slighter delay in progress than loiter but connotes more strongly an aimlessness or a taking of more time than is necessary

I did not hurry the rest of the way home; but neither did I dawdle — V.G.Heiser

the sun dawdles intolerably on the threshold like a tedious guest — Jan Struther

dally and, more strongly, dillydally suggest wasting time in trifling, pottering, or vacillation

while the men dallied, the dogs set off briskly of their own accord — J.T.McNish

they dallied to make mud pies or just to get themselves as muddy as time permitted — English Digest

because the government had dillydallied with new export rules, trading in hides and skins had all but stopped — Time

the protagonist is a maundering fellow who dillydallies too much in getting his murdering done — Margery Bailey

III. transitive verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle French delayer, from (assumed) Vulgar Latin delicare, for Latin deliquare to clarify, strain, decant, from de- + liquare to melt, strain — more at liquate

obsolete : allay: as

a. : mitigate , assuage

b. : weaken , temper , dilute

IV. noun

: a play in football in which a ballcarrier or potential receiver delays momentarily as if to block before receiving a hand-off or running a prescribed pattern

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.