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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. (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.

  1. to belay a rope: Belay on that cleat over there.


  1. Mountain Climbing. a rock, bush, or other object sturdy enough for a running rope to be passed around it to secure a hold.

verb -lays, -laying or -layed

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


  1. (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

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.

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