verb (used with object), be·layed, be·lay·ing.

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.
(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.

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for belayed

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

Examples from the Web for belayed

Historical Examples of belayed

  • He seized the fellow and thrust him toward the pins where the halyards were belayed.

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for belayed


verb -lays, -laying or -layed

nautical to make fast (a line) by securing to a pin, cleat, or bitt
(usually imperative) nautical to stop; cease
(ˈbiːˌleɪ) mountaineering to secure (a climber) to a mountain by tying the rope off round a rock spike, piton, nut, etc


(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 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