A delay is a wait or a postponement. An unexpected delay before the start of a play might make the audience restless and noisy.

During a delay, you have to wait around for things to begin. Delay is also a verb: "That burnt pizza is going to delay dinner for at least another hour." You can also delay by loitering or hanging around: "The performer always delays when he's nervous about singing in front of a crowd." Delay comes from the Old French delaiier, from the roots de-, "not," and laier, "leave."

Definitions of delay
  1. noun
    time during which some action is awaited
    “instant replay caused too long a delay
    synonyms: hold, postponement, time lag, wait
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    a mutually agreed delay in the date set for the completion of a job or payment of a debt
    a legally authorized postponement before some obligation must be discharged
    the extent to which something is delayed or held back
    type of:
    break, intermission, interruption, pause, suspension
    a time interval during which there is a temporary cessation of something
  2. noun
    the act of delaying; inactivity resulting in something being put off until a later time
    synonyms: holdup
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    break, disruption, gap, interruption
    an act of delaying or interrupting the continuity
    detention of a ship or freight car or other cargo beyond its scheduled time of departure
    a delay in enforcing rights or claims or privileges; refraining from acting
    deferment, deferral, postponement
    act of putting off to a future time
    cunctation, procrastination, shillyshally
    the act of procrastinating; putting off or delaying or defering an action to a later time
    lag, retardation, slowdown
    the act of slowing down or falling behind
    dalliance, dawdling, trifling
    the deliberate act of delaying and playing instead of working
    (law) a tactic for delaying or obstructing legislation by making long speeches
    lingering, tarriance
    the act of tarrying
    cut-in, insert
    (film) a still picture that is introduced and that interrupts the action of a film
    cut-in, insert
    (broadcasting) a local announcement inserted into a network program
    the act of postponing to another time or place
    interjection, interpellation, interpolation, interposition
    the action of interjecting or interposing an action or remark that interrupts
    abruption, breaking off
    an instance of sudden interruption
    barracking, heckling
    shouting to interrupt a speech with which you disagree
    type of:
    being inactive; being less active
  3. verb
    cause to be slowed down or delayed
    “Traffic was delayed by the bad weather”
    “she delayed the work that she didn't want to perform”
    synonyms: detain, hold up
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    hurry, rush
    urge to an unnatural speed
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    engage in delaying tactics or refuse to cooperate
    delay or hold up; prevent from proceeding on schedule or as planned
    deliberately delay an event or action
    buy time
    act so as to delay an event or action in order to gain an advantage
    type of:
    decelerate, retard, slow, slow down, slow up
    lose velocity; move more slowly
  4. verb
    slow the growth or development of
    synonyms: check, retard
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    check; keep in check (a fire)
    detain, stay
    stop or halt
    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  5. verb
    act later than planned, scheduled, or required
    “Don't delay your application to graduate school or else it won't be considered”
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    hesitate, pause
    interrupt temporarily an activity before continuing
    dilly-dally, dillydally, drag one's feet, drag one's heels, procrastinate, shillyshally, stall
    postpone doing what one should be doing
    postpone or delay needlessly
    defer, hold over, postpone, prorogue, put off, put over, remit, set back, shelve, table
    hold back to a later time
    hem and haw
    utter `hems' and `haws'; indicated hesitation
    hesitate on moral grounds
    stop or postpone because of adverse conditions, such as bad weather
    stop dealing with
    render temporarily ineffective
    put a convicted person on probation by suspending his sentence
    reprieve, respite
    postpone the punishment of a convicted criminal, such as an execution
    type of:
    hold back, hold off, wait
    wait before acting
  6. verb
    stop or halt
    synonyms: detain, stay
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    type of:
    check, retard
    slow the growth or development of
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