[ley-awf, -of]


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

Nearby words

  1. layered,
  2. layering,
  3. layette,
  4. laying on of hands,
  5. layman,
  6. layout,
  7. layover,
  8. laypeople,
  9. layperson,
  10. laysan

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

Examples from the Web for layoff

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

Culture definitions for layoff


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.