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[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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for belayed
Historical Examples
  • He seized the fellow and thrust him toward the pins where the halyards were belayed.

    Blow The Man Down Holman Day
  • Murphy and Hennesey nippered the falls at the pinrail, and belayed when they slacked.

    The Grain Ship Morgan Robertson
  • The brace was belayed: he sprang into the rigging that Jessie might see him.

    The Two Shipmates William H. G. Kingston
  • Davies had belayed the painter, and now had to explain the origin of the mizzen.

    The Riddle of the Sands Erskine Childers
  • I had just belayed the halyards when Anthea came to me with the keys.

    The First Mate Harry Collingwood
  • If your halliards are belayed to cleats, marl them to the cleat.

    On Yachts and Yacht Handling Thomas Fleming Day
  • I ran to windward, belayed the braces, and raised a loud cry.

  • Muttering unintelligibly, he cast it off the pin to which it was belayed.

    The Log of a Sea-Waif Frank T. Bullen
  • Then I belayed the fall securely to one of a pair of cleats, and approached him.

    The Uttermost Farthing R. Austin Freeman
  • I belayed the rope to the second cleat and set a half-hitch on the turns.

    The Uttermost Farthing R. Austin Freeman
British Dictionary definitions for belayed


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
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Word Origin and History for belayed



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
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