belay (v.)

"to secure or fasten," from Old English belecgan, which, among other senses ("cover, invest, surround; afflict; accuse"), meant "to lay a thing about" (with other objects), from be- + lecgan "to lay" (from PIE root *legh- "to lie down, lay"). The only surviving sense is the nautical one of "coil a running rope round a cleat or pin to secure it" (also transferred to mountain-climbing), first attested 1540s; but this is possibly from Dutch cognate beleggen. Related: Belayed; belaying.

Share