Definition of delay in US English:



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

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

    ‘a two-hour delay’
    ‘long delays in obtaining passports’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The delays in our legal system are also legendary.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The council scored marks for overcoming delays in projects with a ‘well thought-out and flexible programme of scheme delivery’, according to the table.’
    • ‘There was confusion in providing instructions to the air charter company supporting the patrol, leading to delays in the arrival of some equipment.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘Having overcome the problems related to certain delays in campus construction, his priority now would be building up and utilising the intellectual infrastructure.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I will be traveling this week and there may be delays in posting.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Bank transfers are prone to delays in the Christmas period as officials all over the world take a few days off.’
    • ‘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.’
    hold-up, wait, waiting period, detainment
    postponement, deferral, deferment, putting off, stay, respite
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    1. 1.1 The action of delaying or being delayed.
      ‘I set off without delay’
      • ‘‘It is time the Government ended the dither and delay,’ he said.’
      • ‘It cannot agree to any delay because that could mean the end of the whole project.’
      • ‘It's important to make quick decisions when new opportunities come your way, procrastination or delay may be disastrous today.’
      • ‘The Council leader, meanwhile, warns that with construction costs spiralling, every delay in starting work will see the city get less for its £10m.’
      • ‘They won't do it, now, because of this resolution and because this may be some sort of delay.’
      • ‘Indecision and inaction can lead to bigger problems in business so avoid procrastination and delay.’
      • ‘This causes procrastination and delay, giving the stock yet another chance and then yet another.’
      • ‘We need to step up the pace of engagement on the issues so devolved institutions can be established next year without delay.’
      • ‘Still I dithered, rationalizing delay and ignorance.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Time delay and stall tactics could have another goal in mind.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘We have to have somewhere to work and any further delay could see hard-won and highly talented members going elsewhere,’ he said.’
      • ‘Yet all we are hearing here, in her fourth year as Minister, is all this delay and dilly-dallying and shilly-shallying.’
      • ‘It is a time of delay and hesitation and restarts.’
      • ‘If your response is positive we shall proceed immediately without any delay.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But one Democrat suggested delay would be a mistake.’
      • ‘On the contrary, he told leaders that the 17 July was ‘a national commitment that cannot brook delay or manipulation’.’
      lingering, dallying, dawdling, loitering
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    2. 1.2Electronics The time interval between the propagation of an electrical signal and its reception.
      • ‘In the time domain, the signal at zero delay is purely electronic.’
      • ‘The modified write inhibit threshold essentially facilitates an acceptable delay in activating a write inhibit signal.’
      • ‘Then in design, you'll have to handle delays in signal propagation, circuit shape starts playing a strong role in design.’
      • ‘Finally, the average period of the oscillator is related to the average signal propagation delay through the test circuit.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A related experiment involves time delays of radio signals of interplanetary probes as they pass behind the Sun.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A repulsive van der Waals term is slowly introduced after an initial delay of up to 80% of the original values.’
    3. 1.3 An electronic device that introduces a time interval, 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).