lay off

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to lay off: Laid Off
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!

lay off

1. verb To end someone's employment, usually due to a significant change in the company. A noun or pronoun can be used between "lay" and "off." How many people do you think will be laid off in this merger? I figured they would lay me off, I just didn't think it would be this soon.
2. verb To stop bothering someone or leave them alone. Lay off, will you? I'm working as fast as I can! Hey, lay off your brother, OK? Please don't be so rough with him.
3. verb To stop doing or using something. Well, you need to lay off the chocolates if you want to lose weight!
4. verb To designate the boundaries of something. Where is the pool going to go? Have you laid off that part of the yard yet?
5. noun The act of ending someone's employment, usually due to a significant change in the company. In this usage, the phrase is usually written as one word ("layoff"). Do you think this merger will be accompanied by layoffs?
6. noun A period of inactivity. In this usage, the phrase is usually written as one word ("layoff"). The team was rusty after such a long layoff between games.
See also: lay, off

lie off

Of a sailing vessel, to remain a safe distance away (from something). The harbor is much too shallow for the cruise liner to enter, so instead it lies off and sends passengers ashore on dinghies. We had best lie off the ship till we know for certain its allegiance.
See also: lie, off
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

lay someone off (from something)

to put an end to someone's employment at something. The automobile factory laid five hundred people off from work. They laid off a lot of people. We knew they were going to lay a lot of people off.
See also: lay, off

lay off (someone or something)

to leave someone or something alone. Lay off the booze for a while, why don't ya? Lay off me! I didn't do anything!
See also: lay, off

lay off

((of) someone or something) to stop doing something to someone or something; to stop bothering someone or something. (Of is usually retained before pronouns.) Lay off of me! You've said enough. Please lay off the chicken. I cooked it as best I could.
See also: lay, off
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

lay off

1. Terminate a person from employment. For example, When they lost the contract, they had to lay off a hundred workers. This expression formerly referred to temporary dismissals, as during a recession, with the idea that workers would be hired back when conditions improved, but with the tendency of businesses to downsize in the 1990s it came to mean "terminate permanently." [First half of 1800s]
2. Mark off the boundaries, as in Let's lay off an area for a flower garden. [Mid-1700s]
3. Stop doing something, quit, as in Lay off that noise for a minute, so the baby can get to sleep, or She resolved to lay off smoking. [Early 1900s]
4. Stop bothering or annoying someone, as in Lay off or I'll tell the teacher. [Slang; c. 1900]
5. Place all or part of a bet with another bookmaker so as to reduce the risk. For example, Some bookmakers protect themselves by laying off very large bets with other bookmakers. [Mid-1900s]
See also: lay, off
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

lay off

1. To terminate someone's employment, especially temporarily; suspend someone from work: The company had to lay off two dozen workers or it would have gone bankrupt. They had to lay the clerk off for stealing mail.
2. To mark the boundaries of some region and reserve that region; mark something off: We laid off the front part of the yard for a garden and left the back for a lawn. We used lime to lay the field off for the game.
3. To stop using or doing something: I'm going to have to lay off the cigarettes; they're making me sick.
4. Slang To stop bothering someone. Used chiefly as an angry command: Look, I'm trying to work, so just lay off me, okay?
See also: lay, off
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

lay off

See also: lay, off

lay off (someone/something)

in. to stop bothering or harming someone or something; to stop being concerned about someone or something. Lay off the booze for a while, why don’t ya?
See also: lay, off, someone, something
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
About 5,000 workers and their families have been camping inside the sprawling plant for a month in protest at mass lay offs. The strike has cost Hyundai, its suppliers and contractors more than pounds 625 million.
The bank said that it would lay off about 98 workers in New York.
If necessary, EB will lay off an additional up to 100 employees in the autumn of this year.
If the contract does not allow for a lay off without pay, this can be seen as a fundamental breach of contract allowing the affected employee to claim he/she has been constructively dismissed and this was unfair.
Therefore if you wish to avoid losing the employees you should be aware that any period of lay off or short time work should be relatively short.
"It is a lay off situation in order to control costs until such time we have been able to generate more sales.
However the airline has now said that, having finalised its January schedule, it would not lay off as many flight attendants as originally planned.
Oregon is an employment at-will state, which means you can fire or lay off anyone at any time for any reason, as long as it's not an illegal reason.
Sources said Kidder told employees last week it expects to lay off 41 percent of its approximately 5,000 workers.
Global Banking News-February 13, 2015--Bank of America to lay off mortgage workers
Auto Business News-December 21, 2012--Chrysler LLC to lay off workers(C)1994-2012 ENPublishing -
6 October 2009 - Finnish wood products technology supplier Raute Oyj (HEL: RUTAV) said today it may temporary lay off 135 hourly employees in its Nastola plant, southern Finland, due to the weak market situation.
Around 130 employees at a processing plant in Great Witchingham, in Norfolk, will be stood down for 20 days from today, but the firm is preparing to lay off a total of 500 workers, according to the Transport and General Workers Union.
Northwest Airlines plans to lay off more than 1,000 cabin crew over the next few months.
"Most employers lay off employees because they don't have the business to sustain them," she said.