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Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English delaien, borrowed from Anglo-Norman delaier, Old French deslaier, from des- + Old French laier (to leave), a conflation of Old Frankish *latjan ("to delay, hinder"; from Proto-Germanic *latjaną (to delay, hinder, stall), from Proto-Indo-European *le(y)d- (to leave, leave behind)), and Old Frankish *laibjan ("to leave"; from Proto-Germanic *laibijaną (to leave, cause to stay), from Proto-Indo-European *leyp- (to remain, continue)). Akin to Old English latian (to delay, hesitate), Old English latu (a delay, a hindrance), Old English lǣfan (to leave). More at let (to hinder), late, leave.


  • IPA(key): /dɪˈleɪ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪ


delay (plural delays)

  1. A period of time before an event occurs; the act of delaying; procrastination; lingering inactivity.
    the delay before the echo of a sound
    • Bible, Acts xxv. 17
      Without any delay, on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat.
    • Macaulay
      The government ought to be settled without the delay of a day.
    • 2019 October, Ian Walmsley, “Cleaning up”, in Modern Railways, page 42:
      In this article I'm thinking about the big delays, over two hours. While rare, they make the news and help to deter people from future rail travel, both travellers and news viewers.
  2. (music) An audio effects unit that introduces a controlled delay.
    • 2014, Dave Hunter, Guitar Amps and Effects For Dummies (page 259)
      The 8-bit sound quality of many early delays did indeed leave a lot to be desired (compare this to the 16-bit digital technology of CDs)
  • Portuguese: delay


delay (third-person singular simple present delays, present participle delaying, simple past and past participle delayed)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To put off until a later time; to defer.
    • Bible, Matthew xxiv. 48
      My lord delayeth his coming.
  2. To retard; to stop, detain, or hinder, for a time.
    The mail is delayed by a heavy fall of snow.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 10, in The Celebrity:
      Mr. Cooke had had a sloop yacht built at Far Harbor, the completion of which had been delayed, and which was but just delivered. [] The Maria had a cabin, which was finished in hard wood and yellow plush, and accommodations for keeping things cold.
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To allay; to temper.
    • Edmund Spenser (c.1552–1599)
      The watery showers delay the raging wind.
Usage notesEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle French délayer, ultimately from Latin dis- + ligō.


delay (third-person singular simple present delays, present participle delaying, simple past and past participle delayed)

  1. (obsolete) To dilute, temper.
  2. (obsolete) To assuage, quench, allay.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.12:
      Those dreadfull flames she also found delayd / And quenched quite like a consumed torch […].

Further readingEdit




Borrowed from English delay.



delay m (plural delays)

  1. (posh, except in technical contexts) delay (period of time before an event being initiated and actually occurring)
    Synonym: atraso
  2. (audio engineering) delay (effect that produces echo-like repetitions in sound)
  3. (audio engineering) delay (unit that produces a delay effect)