What's the difference between "stranded passengers" and "waylaid passengers"?


I got waylaid passengers from here

Passengers were reportedly kept in the plane on the tarmac for an extended period, without air conditioning, before being allowed into the terminal. The airline then told the waylaid passengers that they would be shuttled by bus five hours north to Dallas, because Spirit does not operate a flight between Houston and Ft. Lauderdale.

If you read the article, you won't get any slightest idea that the passengers were being attacked or ambushed or anything close to being waylaid.

closed as general reference by Jim, Matt E. Эллен, tchrist, user11550, MetaEd Aug 31 '12 at 5:31

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Is there something in particular about the dictionary entries for strand and waylay that you are confused about? – Cameron Jul 10 '12 at 4:47
  • I am not asking about strand and waylay, I am asking about stranded and waylaid. And I am asking in the context of passengers. Please, check the EDIT in my question. – brilliant Jul 10 '12 at 4:57
  • @brilliant: these days waylay tends to be more synonymous with delay than ambush. – Matt E. Эллен Jul 10 '12 at 8:03

I think originally waylaid did mean to be ambushed on the road. But the result of being waylaid was that the ambushed parties were prevented or hindered from reaching their destination as planned. Over time people began to use waylay whenever someone was hindered or prevented from reaching their destination especially when they felt it was due to someone's decision and not to an act of god.

Here is a dictionary that does provide a reasonably fitting definition (2)


I don’t think this is a good use of waylaid. The OED’s third definition is ‘to impede or intercept (a person) in his progress’. This suggests a deliberate attempt on the part of the waylayer to interfere with a traveller, possibly for a dubious purpose. This was presumably not the airline’s intention. Stranded or delayed would have removed any such implication.

  • Reading the news excerpt I collect that the journalist is suggesting negligent (though not necessarily intentional) behaviour on the airline side, so it fits with the OED definition you provide. – Gorpik Jul 11 '12 at 10:25
  • Oh, I have just read the full piece of news. Now waylaid makes more sense, though it does not refer to the airline, but to a passenger not mentioned in the excerpt. – Gorpik Jul 11 '12 at 10:27

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.