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- (transitive, chiefly US, idiomatic) (of an employer) To dismiss (workers) from employment, e.g. at a time of low business volume or through no fault of the worker, often with a severance package.
- (transitive, of a bookmaker) To place all or part of a bet with another bookmaker in order to reduce risk.
- Synonym: hedge one's bets
- (transitive, idiomatic) To cease, quit, stop (doing something).
- Lay off the singing, will you! I'm trying to study.
- When are you gonna lay off smoking?
- (transitive and intransitive, idiomatic) To stop bothering, teasing, or pestering someone; to leave (someone) alone.
- Just lay off, okay! I've had enough!
- Things have been better since the boss has been laying off a little.
- I told him to lay off me but he wouldn't stop.
- Lay off it, already!
- (transitive, intransitive, art) In painting, to apply gentle strokes to smooth a wet coat of paint so as to remove visible roller- or brush-marks, commonly using a dry brush; a similar technique, but using a loaded laying-off brush, may produce a smooth coat of paint when using a roller or the usual brush techniques would leave marks.
- Synonym: tip off
- At any pro paint shop ask for laying off brushes. These are natural bristle, wide, thin brushes designed for tipping off, not for holding a paint load. (Sourced from a web forum exchange)
- He shows me how to lay off the paint — and moves his paintbrush across the section he had already painted, again and again.
- (transitive) To plan out (a navigational course) using a chart.
- In the first two transitive senses the object can come before or after the particle (laid off the whole department). If the object is a pronoun, then it must come before the particle (laid them off).
- In the two idiomatic "cease" senses, all objects, including pronouns, come after the complete phrase (lay off me!). Also, in this sense the verb cannot be used in the passive voice; for example, Finally, the bullies laid off the victim cannot be rephrased as, *Finally, the victim was laid off by the bullies.
- (to dismiss workers from employment): make redundant, let go
- See also Thesaurus:lay off
to dismiss workers from employment