Definition of delay in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɪˈleɪ/


[with object]
1Make (someone or something) late or slow: the train was delayed
More example sentences
  • I wonder if there's another clause fining you if your train delays other people's trains.
  • First, relevant personnel were delayed by the train chaos and then I understand the equipment broke down.
  • This delays plan development, slows the response to changing plans, and increases vulnerability to failure for want of adequate support.
detain, hold up, make late, retard, keep (back), slow up, slow down, set back, bog down;
hinder, hamper, impede, obstruct
1.1 [no object] Be late or slow; loiter: time being of the essence, they delayed no longer
More example sentences
  • For example, when we are trying to go somewhere I sometimes feel that Simon is dawdling and delaying.
  • He's a liar, he's a prevaricator, he delays: I hold no brief for him as an individual or for his policies.
  • But the longer he delays, the greater the risk that the project turns out to be a flop.
linger, dally, take one's time, drag one's feet, be slow, hold back, lag/fall behind, dawdle, loiter, not keep pace, waste time;
procrastinate, stall, play for time, buy time, hang fire, mark time, temporize, hesitate, dither, shilly-shally;
stonewall, filibuster
informal dilly-dally, let the grass grow under one's feet
archaic or literary tarry
1.2Postpone or defer (an action): he may decide to delay the next cut in interest rates
More example sentences
  • Most governors and legislatures would rather make budget cuts or delay some of their tax cuts for now.
  • Her ankle would take a while to heal so we decided to press, there was no point in delaying any longer than we had to.
  • The Faculty of the University recommended him for a chair of theoretical physics but the Department of Educational Affairs decided to delay confirming the post.
postpone, put off, defer, hold over, shelve, suspend, stay, hold in abeyance, pigeonhole;
reschedule, adjourn;
North American  put over, table, lay on the table;
North American Law  continue
informal put on ice, put on the back burner, put in cold storage
rare remit, respite


1A period of time by which something is late or postponed: a two-hour delay long delays in obtaining passports
More example sentences
  • Bank transfers are prone to delays in the Christmas period as officials all over the world take a few days off.
  • With continuing delays in constructing the new parliament building, Ministers will be forced to look for alternative accommodation.
  • He is anxious that the Minister would resolves all issues surrounding the delays in payment before he leaves office.
hold-up, wait, waiting period, detainment;
hindrance, impediment, obstruction, setback;
interval, gap, interlude
postponement, deferral, deferment, putting off, stay, respite;
rescheduling, adjournment;
North American Law  continuation
rare put-off
1.1 [mass noun] The action of delaying or being delayed: I set off without delay
More example sentences
  • Yet all we are hearing here, in her fourth year as Minister, is all this delay and dilly-dallying and shilly-shallying.
  • Any sensible Englishman does the same, knowing that the English weather most often delivers up summer in short bursts, to be enjoyed without delay or hesitation.
  • ‘It is time the Government ended the dither and delay,’ he said.
lingering, dallying, dawdling, loitering;
procrastination, stalling, hesitation, dithering, shilly-shallying
informal dilly-dallying
archaic or literary tarrying
rare cunctation
1.2 Electronics The time interval between the propagation of an electrical signal and its reception.
Example sentences
  • Finally, the average period of the oscillator is related to the average signal propagation delay through the test circuit.
  • Then in design, you'll have to handle delays in signal propagation, circuit shape starts playing a strong role in design.
  • The modified write inhibit threshold essentially facilitates an acceptable delay in activating a write inhibit signal.
1.3An electronic device which introduces a delay, especially in an audio signal.
Example sentences
  • The programmable delay cells provide that propagation delays can be set to perform timing margin tests.



Example sentences
  • My generation of marriage delayers drifted into this period without any real understanding of its value or meaning.
  • This was by necessity a long term strategy and gave rise to the term, Fabian tactic as well as earning Maximus the name Cunctator - the delayer.
  • Among those men, 53% said they were not interested in getting married anytime soon - the marriage delayers.


Middle English: from Old French delayer (verb).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: delay

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