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[ley-awf, -of] /ˈleɪˌɔf, -ˌɒf/
the act of dismissing employees, especially temporarily.
a period of enforced unemployment or inactivity.
1885-90, Americanism; noun use of verb phrase lay off
Can be confused
lay off, layoff. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for layoffs
  • In the next round of layoffs, this meant that the plaintiffs were laid off first.
Word Origin and History for layoffs



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
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layoffs in Culture

layoff definition

The temporary or permanent removal of a worker from his or her job, usually because of cutbacks in production or corporate reorganization.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for layoffs


  1. A dismissal or furlough from a job (1919+)
  2. The part of a bookmaker's bets placed with another agent to forestall catastrophic loss (1950s+ Gambling)
  3. An unemployed actor: A couple of layoffs were walking out of the hotel (1950s+ Theater)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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