Definition of belay in English:


Pronunciation /ˈbiːleɪ//bɪˈleɪ/


[with object]
  • 1Fix (a running rope) round a cleat, rock, pin, or other object, to secure it.

    • ‘At the start of your penetration, the line should be belayed outside the wreck in open water, then re-belayed just inside but well in sight of daylight.’
    • ‘It is even easier to assume you know all there is to know about something as seemingly simple as belaying a leader.’
    • ‘The ladder can be belayed to number of flakes, and it is possible to swing off halfway down and into a parallel shaft entirely coated with flowstone.’
    • ‘I found a spike and bolt only and nowhere to belay a lead in rope.’
    • ‘By following a ledge round to the right, a rope can be belayed to a couple of bolts, and a descent made for half a dozen metres down the wall, to just below the lip of the ledge's funnel.’
    • ‘He secured the cylinder containing the mechanism to belay more of the spider silk rope to his belt.’
    • ‘The rope can be belayed back to the pinnacle with a sling.’
    • ‘This lasts for some 20 metres, and then drops steeply into the Far Eastern Bedding Plane, emerging close to where the telephone cable is belayed for the Near Wallows.’
    • ‘So I climbed back 10m and found somewhere safe for belaying.’
    • ‘Also at this point, a telephone cable may be found belayed to a rock.’
    • ‘I realised that the sump rope was belayed some 4m from the end of the sump, and so I'd crossed the sump pool under water.’
    • ‘The first pitch requires a 20 metre rope with a pull-back line, and is belayed in an alcove round to the right which is a little awkward to get into.’
    • ‘You need to belay the line by tying it off at convenient points as you progress.’
    • ‘Sticking your hook in and belaying the metre and a half of line that is securely karabinered to a strong point on your BC will allow you to add a little buoyancy and fly in the current, with your hands free to work your camera if required.’
    • ‘This was fine for less than vertical, easy trad and sport climbs, but as the rock got steeper, and the falls more frequent, we found a huge problem with belaying this way.’
    • ‘By performing an entertaining pendulum across the shaft to the crevice, the rope can be belayed just inside.’
    • ‘Immediately a curved, rusty, rivet holed plate came into view from which lines had been belayed.’
    1. 1.1 Secure (a climber) with a belayed rope.
      ‘he belayed his partner across the ice’
      • ‘I stood on the ground below, happy to belay him, not understanding the degree of difficulty he had come up against and that I would follow him into.’
      • ‘But it's also safe, because there's someone belaying you the whole time.’
      • ‘I belayed Paul as he set off, and Mike belayed Ed.’
      • ‘Paul Saffo, it turns out, has a past as a technical climber, so he belayed Alexander down the cliff.’
      • ‘For a few nights I kept having a nightmare, where I was rockclimbing, and Rowan was belaying me.’
      • ‘As I was belaying Bryan to the top I asked Jesus to look west at the sky and see if it's going to get worse.’
      • ‘We down-climbed, belaying one another with our ice axes as anchors.’
      • ‘Losing no time, Simon tied their two 300 foot ropes together and started belaying the pain stricken Joe down the mountain.’
      • ‘The route was technically well within Meaghan's limit, and with my brother belaying me, the three of us completed the ten pitches in just under three hours.’
      • ‘The second climber below is attached to the lead climber, and it's his or her job to belay the lead climber in case of a fall.’
      • ‘The climbers are belayed by ropes to a crew at the bottom of the cliff.’
      • ‘He eventually got it and scrambled to some anchors before belaying Suzanne from the top of the climb.’
      • ‘So, I asked him what he weighed to decide whether or not I should be anchoring myself to the ground to belay him.’
      • ‘Lucy Creamer, 31, a noted British climber also taking the class, offered to belay him.’
      • ‘Mills was belaying me and was growing impatient.’
      • ‘Equally important is not standing around the base of the cliff if you are not belaying.’
      • ‘Half-way through belaying Tim and Bruce up the last pitch, I start to hear noises that sound like an animal in pain.’
      • ‘‘Pull up some slack, please,’ she yelled at Lori, belaying her.’
      • ‘I was belaying Ann, the new climbing hall is way cooler than the original one I went to.’
      • ‘I could feel my pulse in my neck as Steve began belaying Alan up the first 15-20 feet of the climb.’
  • 2nautical slang usually in imperative Stop; desist from.

    ‘‘Belay that, mister. Man your post.’’
    • ‘The pirate says to belay the whining and I must say I do agree’
    • ‘Of course, since I do the grocery shopping, I had only myself to blame for all these extra boxes… belay that, I have my child to blame.’
    • ‘3 Responses to “Belay that order, we’ve Japanese fuel!”’
    abstain, refrain, forbear, hold back, keep
    View synonyms


  • 1An act of belaying.

    ‘the leader may require belays to tackle more difficult sections’
    • ‘I know how to tie my knots backward and forward, in the dark and in the rain, and how to provide a safe belay for my partner.’
    • ‘Most cave divers would opt for rope ladders and a safety belay for entry and exit, but we used single rope caving techniques and equipment.’
    • ‘I'm watching the rope quickly diminish in length and wondering when he's going to get to the belay.’
    • ‘A belay would have been welcome here on the climb out.’
    • ‘Ara was hand drilling the holes for belay in partly cloudy sky when the sights of coming team were seen.’
    • ‘No amount of determination could get me up any of these walls if I didn't have someone to give me a belay.’
    • ‘He examines my belay and says offhandedly, ‘Guess I won't fall.’’
    • ‘And so I sprinted back to the area where the safety line was and I tied myself back into the safety line and put her back on to the belay.’
    • ‘Tom climbed the last pitch, set up his belay and greeted each of us with a triumphal smile as we rounded the summit.’
    • ‘His exploits included a record ascent of Hidden Peak in 1958, but he spent the rest of his life humbly downplaying the famous belay.’
    • ‘Ken gives me a belay from the ground; I loop the cord over a limb and step out onto the log.’
    • ‘The 650-foot gully was so steep it required ice axes, crampons, ropes, and belays to ascend it.’
    • ‘Eventually the snow slides were over, the belay was set and it was my turn on the climb.’
    • ‘A belay point had failed and the man fell about six feet before a secondary belay kicked in and saved him.’
    • ‘While he was hand drilling two holes for the belay and some more up, I cleaned pitch 4.’
    • ‘I then hiked up to some trees, found a nice spot in the shade and set up a belay for Frank.’
  • 2A spike of rock or other object used for belaying.

    ‘the trees along the top are used as belays’
    • ‘I felt like a sissy for having six layers and still not being able to feel my fingers at the belays.’
    • ‘Two solid natural belays were quickly located, and the ladder was soon attached and lowered down.’
    • ‘North Shaft can be descended using SRT, but it needs to be rigged from natural belays.’
    • ‘A dry extension to the passage leads to a spike belay and the original 40-metre pitch.’
    • ‘The final pitch was totally unriggable in a safe manner with no belays anywhere near the pitch.’
    • ‘I quickly hauled myself up and hiked to a bolted belay on the higher slab.’
    • ‘Approaching Cathedral Sam made a point of rigging exactly as the CNCC guide recommended, and began looking for the rock column mentioned as the initial belay.’
    • ‘Tie your line off to a suitable belay on the passage floor and, assuming you have not lost your orientation, turn at 90 degrees to the direction in which you think the main line runs.’
    • ‘A narrow inclined rift leads out to the head of the pitch, and a large wedged block provides an initial belay for a traverse at roof level to the first section of the pitch.’
    • ‘When she attains the next anchor, she establishes a belay exactly as she did on the previous pitch.’
    • ‘Using such friction plates to provide belays over crevasses or up short, steep sections is often too time-consuming when other methods will suffice, but the device is worth its weight during rescues.’
    • ‘There was a lack of belays at the top of the climb, so I ran ropes down from the top of the pitch to provide attachment points.’
    • ‘Prickly pear unfortunately thrives along the Rim, growing at the base and among the belays, and we were all soon pincushioned with tiny golden spines.’
    • ‘I rappelled back to the belay and hung in my harness, drifting in and out of consciousness.’


Mid 16th century (originally in nautical use): from be- + lay, on the pattern of Dutch beleggen.