See more synonyms for belay on
verb (used with object), be·layed, be·lay·ing.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. (used chiefly in the imperative)
    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), be·layed, be·lay·ing.
  1. to belay a rope: Belay on that cleat over there.
  1. 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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for belay

quit, end, halt, stay, arrest, stall, cease, cancel, check

Examples from the Web for belay

Historical Examples of belay

  • 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.


    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

British Dictionary definitions for belay


verb -lays, -laying or -layed
  1. nautical to make fast (a line) by securing to a pin, cleat, or bitt
  2. (usually imperative) nautical to stop; cease
  3. (ˈbiːˌleɪ) mountaineering to secure (a climber) to a mountain by tying the rope off round a rock spike, piton, nut, etc
  1. (ˈbiːˌleɪ) mountaineering 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 fallSee also running belay

Word Origin for belay

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

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