Try Our Apps


The Best Internet Slang


[bih-ley] /bɪˈleɪ/
verb (used with object), belayed, belaying.
Nautical. to fasten (a rope) by winding around a pin or short rod inserted in a holder so that both ends of the rod are clear.
Mountain Climbing.
  1. to secure (a person) by attaching to one end of a rope.
  2. to secure (a rope) by attaching to a person or to an object offering stable support.
  1. to cease (an action); stop.
  2. to ignore (an announcement, order, etc.):
    Belay that, the meeting will be at 0900 instead of 0800.
verb (used without object), belayed, belaying.
to belay a rope:
Belay on that cleat over there.
Mountain Climbing. a rock, bush, or other object sturdy enough for a running rope to be passed around it to secure a hold.
Origin of belay
before 900; Middle English beleggen, Old English belecgan. See be-, lay1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for belay
Historical Examples
  • The order was given to belay the head braces, and we waited the result in silence.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • By the time a voice on board her cried, "belay," faintly, she had gone from my sight.

    Romance Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
  • Well there with the throat-halliards; well with the peak; belay!

    The Pirate Slaver Harry Collingwood
  • belay that sea-lawyering, Marline,” interposed Captain Miles.

    The White Squall John Conroy Hutcheson
  • belay that,” said Captain Miles, rousing up now and rubbing his eyes.

    The White Squall John Conroy Hutcheson
  • There now, old man, just belay all that, and let me finish my snooze.

    Salt Water W. H. G. Kingston
  • “After that round turn, you may belay,” cried young Tom, laughing.

    Jacob Faithful Captain Frederick Marryat
  • None of the four that remained could do more than haul aft and belay a sheet.

    The Celebrity, Complete Winston Churchill
  • He did not belay the tired animal with a whip and curse and swear at him in his helplessness.

    My Wonderful Visit Charlie Chaplin
  • All he has to do when on a wind is to take and harden in all he can, and belay.

    Yachting Vol. 1 Various.
British Dictionary definitions for belay


verb -lays, -laying, -layed
(nautical) to make fast (a line) by securing to a pin, cleat, or bitt
(usually imperative) (nautical) to stop; cease
(mountaineering) (ˈbiːˌleɪ). to secure (a climber) to a mountain by tying the rope off round a rock spike, piton, nut, etc
(mountaineering) (ˈbiːˌleɪ). the attachment (of a climber) to a mountain by tying the rope off round a rock spike, piton, nut, etc, to safeguard the party in the event of a fall See also running belay
Word Origin
Old English belecgan; related to Old High German bileggen, Dutch beleggen
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for belay

from Old English bilecgan, which, among other senses, meant "to lay a thing about" (with other objects), from be- + lecgan "to lay" (see lay (v.)). The only surviving sense is the nautical one of "coil a running rope round a cleat or pin to secure it" (also transferred to mountain-climbing), first attested 1540s; but this is possibly a cognate word, from Dutch beleggen.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for belay

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for belay

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for belay