v. be·layed, be·lay·ing, be·lays
1. Nautical To secure or make fast (a rope, for example) by winding on a cleat or pin.
2. To provide security to (a climber) by paying out or drawing in rope, often through a braking device, in readiness to break a potential fall.
3. To cause to stop.
1. To be made secure.
2. Used in the imperative as an order to stop: Belay there!
1. The act of belaying a climber.
2. A system of ropes and anchors by which a climber is belayed.
[Middle English bileggen, to surround, from Old English belecgan; see legh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.