from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. Nautical To secure or make fast (a rope, for example) by winding on a cleat or pin.
  • transitive v. To secure (a mountain climber, for example) at the end of a length of rope.
  • transitive v. To cause to stop.
  • intransitive v. To be made secure.
  • intransitive v. Used in the imperative as an order to stop: Belay there!
  • n. The securing of a rope on a rock or other projection during mountain climbing.
  • n. An object, such as a rock, to which a mountain climber's rope can be secured.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To surround; environ; inclose.
  • v. To overlay; adorn.
  • v. To besiege; invest; surround.
  • v. To lie in wait for in order to attack; block up or obstruct.
  • v. To make (a rope) fast by turning it round a fastening point such as a cleat or piton.
  • v. To secure (a person) to a rope or (a rope) to a person.
  • v. To lay aside; stop; cancel.
  • v. The general command to stop or cease.
  • v. To make a line fast by turns around a cleat, pin, or bitt.
  • n. The securing of a rope to a rock or other projection.
  • n. The object to which a rope is secured.
  • n. A location at which a climber stops and builds an anchor with which to secure his/or her partner.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To lay on or cover; to adorn.
  • transitive v. To make fast, as a rope, by taking several turns with it round a pin, cleat, or kevel.
  • transitive v. To lie in wait for with a view to assault. Hence: to block up or obstruct.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To surround; environ; inclose.
  • To overlay; adorn.
  • To besiege; invest; surround.
  • To lie in wait for in order to attack; hence, to block up or obstruct.
  • Nautical, to fasten, or make fast, by winding round a belaying-pin, cleat, or cavel: applied chiefly to running rigging.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. fasten a boat to a bitt, pin, or cleat
  • n. something to which a mountain climber's rope can be secured
  • v. turn a rope round an object or person in order to secure it or him


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English bileggen, to surround, from Old English belecgan; see legh- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English beleggen, bileggen, from Old English belecgan ("to cover, invest, surround, afflict, attribute to, charge with, accuse"), equivalent to be- +‎ lay. Cognate with Dutch beleggen ("to cover, overlay, belay"), German belegen ("to cover, occupy, belay"), Swedish belägga ("to pave").



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  • This word is used in Star Trek a lot.

    June 21, 2012

  • "Police have recovered the body of a man in his 70s after his car crashed into Melbourne's Yarra River. It is believed he lost control of the car while driving along Yarra Boulevard at Kew, crashing through a fence and down an embankment. It landed in the water 70 metres below.

    Sergeant Simon Brand says getting access to the scene was difficult. '(It was a) very steep embankment,' he said. 'We actually had to rope belay the diver down to the water.'

    - Driver's body recovered after Yarra River plunge,, 21 Nov 2011.

    November 21, 2011

  • "'Boat your oars,' said Jack. 'Clap on to the halliard — no, the halliard. God's death — haul away. Bear a hand, Stephen. Belay. Catch a couple of turns round the kevel — the kevel.'

    "The scow gave a violent lurch. Jack dropped all, scrambled forward, caught two turns round the kevel and slid back to the tiller. The sail filled, he brought the wind a little abaft the beam, and the scow headed out to sea.

    "'You are cursed snappish tonight, Jack,' said Stephen. 'How do you expect me to understand your altumal cant, without pondering on it? I do not expect you to understand medical jargon, without giving you time to consider the etymology, for all love.'

    "'Not to know the odds between a halliard and a sheet, after all these years at sea: it passes human understanding,' said Jack.

    "'You are a reasonably civil, complaisant creature on dry land,' said Stephen, but the moment you are afloat you become pragmatical and absolute, a bashaw — do this, do that, gluppit the prawling strangles, there — no longer a social being at all. It is no doubt the effect of the long-continued habit of command; but it cannot be considered amiable.'

    "Diana said nothing: she had a considerable experience and she knew that if men were to be at all tolerable they must be fed..."

    --Patrick O'Brian, The Fortune of War, p. 272

    February 6, 2008