Definition of delay in English:



[with object]
  • 1Make (someone or something) late or slow.

    ‘the train was delayed’
    • ‘This delays plan development, slows the response to changing plans, and increases vulnerability to failure for want of adequate support.’
    • ‘He advanced at a pace a bit slower than the others, delaying his advance as much as possible.’
    • ‘Any delays in getting the first of their products to markets will slow down the rate of sales, further delaying its uptake and eventual profitability.’
    • ‘Fat delays stomach emptying and slows down the whole digestive process.’
    • ‘Minor modifications to the route will be necessary, but they are not expected to delay the planning process unduly.’
    • ‘Mr Chairperson, I genuinely do not wish to delay things unduly but I need to be clear on this point.’
    • ‘Their existence can slow or stop an advance, delaying or even halting conflict; they can deter invasion in the first place.’
    • ‘Research indicates that stigma, shame and prejudice result in people delaying treatment and families denying that a family member may have a mental illness.’
    • ‘She told team bosses that she delayed her return to training too long after her Olympic triumph.’
    • ‘I wonder if there's another clause fining you if your train delays other people's trains.’
    • ‘However, sometimes people are delayed for one of a whole range of reasons.’
    • ‘To produce such interactions, slowing the rate of processing must do more than simply delay the time to reach threshold at the feature level.’
    • ‘First, relevant personnel were delayed by the train chaos and then I understand the equipment broke down.’
    • ‘Can I, at the risk of unduly delaying you on this, point to some particular features of the transcript that trouble me?’
    • ‘The Federal Minister for Ageing says increased community care services are delaying the need for people to enter residential aged care.’
    • ‘Another reason clients like contingency fees is because they know that lawyers will not unduly delay the case.’
    • ‘Neither trains nor traffic were delayed by the incident, although police attended the scene.’
    • ‘Their marketing consultant said the shortage was causing delays within the industry.’
    • ‘One of the few times we were delayed by a freight train happened on this stretch.’
    • ‘Gaudio adapted better to courts slowed by rain, which had delayed the start of play for four hours.’
    detain, hold up, make late, retard, keep, keep back, slow up, slow down, set back, bog down
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object Be late or slow; loiter.
      ‘time being of the essence, they delayed no longer’
      • ‘But everyone is delaying until after the election because they want to see who will form the next government, what its policies will be, who will be PM.’
      • ‘‘Those of us who are delaying with the ratifications of the protocol must please deal with that question so we can move ahead,’ he said.’
      • ‘The longer it delays, the greater the suspicion will become that it didn't really believe it itself.’
      • ‘And even the Republican chairman of the Committee joined the ranking member telling the CIA to stop delaying.’
      • ‘He's a liar, he's a prevaricator, he delays: I hold no brief for him as an individual or for his policies.’
      • ‘But the longer he delays, the greater the risk that the project turns out to be a flop.’
      • ‘They faced a choice of publishing population projections according to schedule or delaying until the estimate of current population had been updated.’
      • ‘These can only enter into force after they have been ratified by all EU members and, unfortunately, it is one of the countries still delaying.’
      • ‘But western governments must not go on delaying.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, council leaders advised planners simply to ‘think big and stop delaying.’’
      • ‘For example, when we are trying to go somewhere I sometimes feel that Simon is dawdling and delaying.’
      • ‘Well, I think he's handling it just as he should, by backing up his attorney general for delaying and allowing a review of the documents.’
      linger, dally, take one's time, drag one's feet, be slow, hold back, fall behind, lag behind, dawdle, loiter, not keep pace, waste time
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Postpone or defer (an action)
      ‘he may decide to delay the next cut in interest rates’
      • ‘By slowing down the aging rate, we basically delay the onset and the progression of a whole host of mortal and debilitating diseases.’
      • ‘It slows change by allowing a resolute minority to delay - to stand athwart history shouting stop.’
      • ‘It's not a magic bullet, but it can delay or slow the progress of the disease.’
      • ‘The indirect impact on the banks arises from the changes in capital allowances, which are expected to delay capital investment and therefore slow the rate of growth in loan demand.’
      • ‘The Faculty of the University recommended him for a chair of theoretical physics but the Department of Educational Affairs decided to delay confirming the post.’
      • ‘The longer Congress delays in passing any tax-cut plan, the longer it will take for its effects to ripple through the economy.’
      • ‘But the slower she did it, the longer she could delay what would happen next.’
      • ‘Most governors and legislatures would rather make budget cuts or delay some of their tax cuts for now.’
      • ‘Following a healthy lifestyle throughout life is the best way to delay the onset of osteoporosis, and slow the rate at which your bones become brittle.’
      • ‘With the simple word she nodded and kissed my forehead, lingering to delay the inevitable.’
      • ‘She thought, perhaps by slowing the process down she could delay the moment when her solitude set in.’
      • ‘If he continues to delay paying the bill, he will have to take his seriously ill 1-year-old out of hospital.’
      • ‘The strike was postponed after the government said it would delay making a final decision on the sale.’
      • ‘To slow pipes from freezing, turn both hot and cold water faucets to a trickle; the continuous water flow will delay freezing.’
      • ‘However people with strong bones can delay and slow the process of having porous bones.’
      • ‘If she marries at 21, she will receive a bonus of Rs 2,000 and for every year she delays, she will get an extra reward of Rs 500.’
      • ‘There is evidence that the onset of senility is actually delayed for those old people who live in their own homes.’
      • ‘Her ankle would take a while to heal so we decided to press, there was no point in delaying any longer than we had to.’
      • ‘One might expect that the array of windows might slow down the pulse, delaying the arrival of that beam.’
      • ‘PC sales have slumped this year as consumers and businesses delay purchases while economic growth slows.’
      postpone, put off, defer, hold over, shelve, suspend, stay, hold in abeyance, pigeonhole
      View synonyms


  • 1A period of time by which something is late or postponed.

    ‘a two-hour delay’
    ‘long delays in obtaining passports’
    • ‘We are committed to making sure that all programmes go on air so we cannot afford for any delays in the relocation - we cannot go off air.’
    • ‘An administrative oversight resulted in delays in updating the parking permit system, causing many residents to be overcharged for the renewal of their permits in December.’
    • ‘The council scored marks for overcoming delays in projects with a ‘well thought-out and flexible programme of scheme delivery’, according to the table.’
    • ‘But he admitted that in a few areas polling started two hours late because of delays in the delivery of election forms due to bad weather.’
    • ‘The delays in our legal system are also legendary.’
    • ‘Dyslexia is a language disability, characterised by significant delays in one or more areas of learning process in a child of normal or above-normal intelligence.’
    • ‘It says the government will look forward to action from the banking industry to remove delays in processing cheques and other payments.’
    • ‘Having overcome the problems related to certain delays in campus construction, his priority now would be building up and utilising the intellectual infrastructure.’
    • ‘There was confusion in providing instructions to the air charter company supporting the patrol, leading to delays in the arrival of some equipment.’
    • ‘One in seven children have delayed development in speech and language and children with untreated delays in speech and language are at increased risk of developing literacy problems.’
    • ‘It was paramedics concerned at the possibility of even greater delays in ambulances dealing with rural emergencies who provided them with the internal document setting out the changes.’
    • ‘Bank transfers are prone to delays in the Christmas period as officials all over the world take a few days off.’
    • ‘I will be traveling this week and there may be delays in posting.’
    • ‘With continuing delays in constructing the new parliament building, Ministers will be forced to look for alternative accommodation.’
    • ‘He is anxious that the Minister would resolves all issues surrounding the delays in payment before he leaves office.’
    • ‘The document contained a brief description of the facts of the case and expressed concern about the numerous delays in the hearings, and violations of the human rights of the accused.’
    • ‘Several surgeries have yet to start the flu vaccination programme, which runs from October 1 until December, due to delays in deliveries and a recall from the main supplier.’
    hold-up, wait, waiting period, detainment
    postponement, deferral, deferment, putting off, stay, respite
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1mass noun The action of delaying or being delayed.
      ‘I set off without delay’
      • ‘Yet all we are hearing here, in her fourth year as Minister, is all this delay and dilly-dallying and shilly-shallying.’
      • ‘‘It is time the Government ended the dither and delay,’ he said.’
      • ‘Any sensible Englishman does the same, knowing that the English weather most often delivers up summer in short bursts, to be enjoyed without delay or hesitation.’
      • ‘If your response is positive we shall proceed immediately without any delay.’
      • ‘‘We have to have somewhere to work and any further delay could see hard-won and highly talented members going elsewhere,’ he said.’
      • ‘They won't do it, now, because of this resolution and because this may be some sort of delay.’
      • ‘The Council leader, meanwhile, warns that with construction costs spiralling, every delay in starting work will see the city get less for its £10m.’
      • ‘But one Democrat suggested delay would be a mistake.’
      • ‘We need to step up the pace of engagement on the issues so devolved institutions can be established next year without delay.’
      • ‘It is a time of delay and hesitation and restarts.’
      • ‘On the contrary, he told leaders that the 17 July was ‘a national commitment that cannot brook delay or manipulation’.’
      • ‘It cannot agree to any delay because that could mean the end of the whole project.’
      • ‘Still I dithered, rationalizing delay and ignorance.’
      • ‘Time delay and stall tactics could have another goal in mind.’
      • ‘This causes procrastination and delay, giving the stock yet another chance and then yet another.’
      • ‘It's important to make quick decisions when new opportunities come your way, procrastination or delay may be disastrous today.’
      • ‘Indecision and inaction can lead to bigger problems in business so avoid procrastination and delay.’
      • ‘These are the sort of ‘refugees’ Government is deeply concerned about and wants to flush out with undue delay so that they can face the law for their uncouth activities.’
      • ‘He said that he was confident the new committee, established with the assistance of retired consultants, would allow the matter to be resolved without any further delay.’
      lingering, dallying, dawdling, loitering
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Electronics The time interval between the propagation of an electrical signal and its reception.
      • ‘A related experiment involves time delays of radio signals of interplanetary probes as they pass behind the Sun.’
      • ‘The modified write inhibit threshold essentially facilitates an acceptable delay in activating a write inhibit signal.’
      • ‘In the time domain, the signal at zero delay is purely electronic.’
      • ‘The echo is heard on the VoIP phone: the caller on the analog line hears only a normal side tone, because there are no signal delays.’
      • ‘Finally, the average period of the oscillator is related to the average signal propagation delay through the test circuit.’
      • ‘A repulsive van der Waals term is slowly introduced after an initial delay of up to 80% of the original values.’
      • ‘Then in design, you'll have to handle delays in signal propagation, circuit shape starts playing a strong role in design.’
      • ‘The only weird thing I've found is that digital radio has a couple of seconds' delay, so if you move between two rooms with the radio on, you get a sense of déjà écouté.’
    3. 1.3 An electronic device which introduces a delay, especially in an audio signal.
      • ‘The programmable delay cells provide that propagation delays can be set to perform timing margin tests.’


Middle English: from Old French delayer (verb).