If you cancel an arrangement or an appointment, you stop it from happening. You usually do not make any new arrangements.

1. The airport closed again. All flights were cancelled to and from Glasgow.
2. The performances were cancelled because the leading man was ill.

If you postpone an arrangement or an appointment, you make new arrangements for it to happen at a later time.

3. The flight has been postponed until eleven o’clock.
4. Could you postpone your departure for five minutes?

If you delay something that has been arranged, you make it happen later than planned.

5. Try and persuade them to delay some of the changes.
6. The flight had been delayed one hour, due to weather conditions.

If something delays you, you start or finish something later than you planned.

7. Suppose there is some accident which delays you.
8. I’m afraid I was slightly delayed.

Other words

English also uses a number of phrasal verbs to express the idea of doing things at a later time or not at all. For example, if you cancel a meeting, you can also say that you ‘call it off‘. If you postpone a meeting, you ‘put it off‘. If a meeting is delayed, it is ‘held up‘. Phrasal verbs are more common in speech than in written English.