[wey-ley, wey-ley]

verb (used with object), way·laid, way·lay·ing.

to intercept or attack from ambush, as in order to rob, seize, or slay.
to await and accost unexpectedly: The actor was waylaid by a swarm of admirers.

Origin of waylay

1505–15; way1 + lay1, after Middle Low German, Middle Dutch wegelagen to lie in wait, derivative of wegelage a lying in wait
Related formsway·lay·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for waylay

Historical Examples of waylay

  • I warn you that I shall lay all manner of traps, waylay your messengers, bribe them.

    The Lure of the Mask

    Harold MacGrath

  • The little house was quiet and dark with no one to waylay them.

    A Little Girl in Old Detroit

    Amanda Minnie Douglas

  • But Rose did not dare, and then there was Martin ready to waylay her.

    A Little Girl in Old Detroit

    Amanda Minnie Douglas

  • If you can intercept her before she gets there, or waylay her when she leaves, why there you are.

  • The huntsmen, hearing of it, stole out privately to waylay him in a snare.

    Fairy Book

    Sophie May

British Dictionary definitions for waylay


verb -lays, -laying or -laid (tr)

to lie in wait for and attack
to await and intercept unexpectedly
Derived Formswaylayer, noun

Word Origin for waylay

C16: from way + lay 1
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 waylay

"to ambush," 1510s, from way + lay (v.), on model of Middle Low German, Middle Dutch wegelagen "besetting of ways, lying in wait with evil or hostile intent along public ways."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper