1. An act of passing something along from one person, group, or station to another.
a. A relay race.
b. A division of a relay race.
3. Electronics A device that responds to a small current or voltage change by activating switches or other devices in an electric circuit.
4. A crew of workers who relieve another crew; a shift.
5. A fresh team, as of horses or dogs, to relieve weary animals in a hunt, task, or journey.
tr.v. (rēlā, rĭ-lā) re·layed, re·lay·ing, re·lays
1. To pass along by or as if by relay: relayed the message to his boss.
2. To supply with fresh relays.
3. Electronics To control or retransmit by means of a relay.
[Middle English relai, fresh team of dogs for a hunt, from Old French, from relaier, to relay : re-, re- + laier, to leave (of Germanic origin; see leip- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 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.