From way +‎ lay, likely a calque of Middle Dutch wegelagen (besetting of ways, lying in wait with evil or hostile intent along public ways). Compare Middle Low German wegelagen, German wegelagern (to waylay; rob).



waylay (third-person singular simple present waylays, present participle waylaying, simple past and past participle waylaid or (nonstandard) waylayed)

  1. (transitive) To lie in wait for and attack from ambush.
    Synonyms: ambush, lurk
  2. (transitive) To accost or intercept unexpectedly.
    Synonym: buttonhole
    • 1986 November 24, Susan Sontag, “The Way We Live Now”, in The New Yorker[1]:
      And when some of the friends, the ones who came every day, waylaid the doctor in the corridor, Stephen was the one who asked the most informed questions, who’d been keeping up not just with the stories that appeared several times a week in the Times []