[ley-awf, -of]


the act of dismissing employees, especially temporarily.
a period of enforced unemployment or inactivity.

Origin of layoff

1885–90, Americanism; noun use of verb phrase lay off
Can be confusedlay off layoff Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for layoff

cutback, unemployment, discharge, respite

Examples from the Web for layoff

Contemporary Examples of layoff

Historical Examples of layoff

  • Come to think of it, Ernie didn't know there was going to be a layoff.

    All Day Wednesday

    Richard Olin

  • After this morning, Rogers would post him for the layoff for sure.

    All Day Wednesday

    Richard Olin

  • Would he come back to the farm if this ten day layoff were extended, or would he catch a train for Chicago?

    Plowing On Sunday

    Sterling North

  • Show them that your layoff hasnt hurt your batting eye, Larry, sang out McRae.

Word Origin and History for layoff

also lay-off, lay off; 1889, "rest, respite;" from lay (v.) + off. Via seasonal labor with periodic down time, it came to have a sense of "temporary release from employment," and by 1960s was being used somewhat euphemistically for permanent releases of masses of workers by employers. The verbal phrase lay off is attested from 1868 as "dismiss" (an employee); meaning "stop disturbing" is from 1908.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

layoff in Culture


The temporary or permanent removal of a worker from his or her job, usually because of cutbacks in production or corporate reorganization.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.