All the expression below mean the same as "to fire someone". Except: A)To sack B) To lay off C)To make someone redundant D) To retire.

  • A to C are done by the employer and involve terminating or suspending someone's employment. B (lay off) can be temporary. D (to retire) is done by the employee. Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 15:25
  • This is regional usage. In the US, "to lay off" is absolutely not the same as firing someone. Firing is due to the employee performing inadequately. It can be damaging to your future prospects to be fired. Layoffs are because of lack of work for the employee to do, not the employee's fault. I believe in British English, "make redundant" might be similar, but I'm not sure.
    – Lorel C.
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 15:36
  • You also see "to let go", especially in places with "at-will employment" laws, where employers can terminate employment without needing to justify the decision. Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 15:59

1 Answer 1


Making someone redundant has a very specific and legal meaning in British English, though the gist of it is, I think, the same as "lay off" in American English. Both refer to someone losing their job because the job no longer exists - the employer has shut down a project, scaled down a department, runs fewer shifts, etc. Making someone redundant doesn't require any cause, but there are rules about when and how it is done.

Firing someone generally suggests they have done something wrong, and that you, the employer, found the most appropriate way to deal with it was to end their employment.

All of these concepts are covered by to dismiss. Someone who's been dismissed from their job has lost their job, but it says nothing about why.

You can retire someone or something, but usually only something other than yourself. You will hear people talk about retiring a server or a piece of software. In terms of employment, people usually just retire, the verb being intransitive.

  • In the UK, this would be perfectly reasonable: Q. "Were you dismissed?" A. "No, I was made redundant". Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 17:06
  • @MichaelHarvey True enough, though it's also true that an HR department would include a redundancy template in a collection of "letters of dismissal" (that being something I've actually seen). It can be considered covered by dismissal or contrasted with it.
    – SamBC
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 17:10

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