See also: re-lay


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Etymology 1Edit

From Middle French relai (reserve pack of hounds), from relaier (to exchange tired animals for fresh); literally, "to leave behind", from Old French relaier (to leave behind), from re- + laier (to leave), of uncertain origin.


  • (noun) IPA(key): /ˈɹiːleɪ/
    • (file)
  • (verb) IPA(key): /ɹiˈleɪ/, /ˈɹiːleɪ/
  • Rhymes: -iːleɪ
  • Rhymes: -eɪ


relay (plural relays)

  1. (hunting, rare) A new set of hounds. [from 15th c.]
  2. (now chiefly historical) A new set of horses kept along a specific route so that they can replace animals that are tired. [from 17th c.]
  3. (by extension) A new set of anything.
    • 1846 October 1 – 1848 April 1, Charles Dickens, “Retribution”, in Dombey and Son, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1848, OCLC 145080417, page 594:
      There is a snaky gleam in her hard grey eye, as of anticipated rounds of buttered toast, relays of hot chops, worryings and quellings of young children, sharp snappings at poor Berry, and all the other delights of her Ogress's castle.
  4. A series of vehicles travelling in sequence. [from 18th c.]
  5. (athletics) A track and field discipline where runners take turns in carrying a baton from start to finish. Most common events are 4x100 meter and 4x400 meter competitions. [from 19th c.]
  6. (electronics) An electrical actuator that allows a relatively small electrical voltage or current to control a larger voltage or current. [from 19th c.]
Derived termsEdit


relay (third-person singular simple present relays, present participle relaying, simple past and past participle relayed)

  1. (transitive) To pass on or transfer (information). [from 19th c.]
    The CCTV cameras relay what's going on to the headquarters.
    Can you relay this message to John?
  2. (obsolete, intransitive, hunting) To release a new set of hounds. [15th–17th c.]
  3. (transitive, now rare) To place (people or horses) in relays, such that one can take over from another. [from 18th c.]
  4. (intransitive, now rare) To take on a new relay of horses; to change horses. [from 19th c.]

Etymology 2Edit

re- +‎ lay



relay (third-person singular simple present relays, present participle relaying, simple past and past participle relaid)

  1. Alternative spelling of re-lay
    • 1940 December, O. S. M. Raw, “The Rhodesia Railways—II”, in Railway Magazine, page 640:
      Over this section the 16th class are allowed to haul 800 tons, compared with 600 tons only by the 13th and 14th, and 450 tons by the 12th class engines, and in this way, without any expenditure on civil engineering works or relaying with heavier rails, the introduction of the 16th class has almost doubled the line capacity.
    • 1962 December, “Motive Power Miscellany: Scottish Region”, in Modern Railways, page 427:
      A reader writes that some Ballachulish branch services are still worked by Class 2 2-6-0s Nos. 46460 and 78052, which have had to be retained at Oban until a tight curve on the outside line of the railway pier, used by coal and oil traffic for the island steamers, has been relaid to standards suitable for the diesels.