slap·​dash | \ ˈslap-ˈdash How to pronounce slapdash (audio) , -ˌdash\

Definition of slapdash

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The first known use of "slapdash" in English came in 1679 from the British poet and dramatist John Dryden, who used it as an adverb in his play The kind keeper; or Mr. Limberham: "Down I put the notes slap-dash." The Oxford English Dictionary defines this sense in part as "[w]ith, or as with, a slap and a dash," perhaps suggesting the notion of an action (such as painting) performed with quick, imprecise movements. Over 100 years later, the word acquired the adjectival sense with which we are more familiar today, describing something done in a hasty, careless, or haphazard manner.

Examples of slapdash in a Sentence

the investigation of the charges against the mayor was slapdash and not very thorough
Recent Examples on the Web As slapdash ideas are hastily pulled together, there’s a chance a certain ubiquitous online retailer might be involved in people’s search for the perfect look. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Amazon Last-Minute Halloween Costumes May Be Scary, But Jeff Bezos’s Vast Fortune Is Scarier," 25 Oct. 2019 This slapdash, cash-grab sequel is not nostalgic, but in a word, taxing. Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Will ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ be the nail in the coffin of the undead genre?," 16 Oct. 2019 The result is a movie of a cynicism so vast and pervasive as to render the viewing experience even emptier than its slapdash aesthetic does. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“Joker” Is a Viewing Experience of Rare, Numbing Emptiness," 3 Oct. 2019 The result — gorgeous, delicate folk music — sounds anything but slapdash., "The Ticket: What’s happening in the local arts world," 30 Aug. 2019 The video brings to mind the content on TikTok, the hugely popular social-media platform, where users make slapdash, absurdist remixes of songs and videos, adding digital filters and ornaments. Carrie Battan, The New Yorker, "Clairo and the Fuzzy, D.I.Y. Sounds of Bedroom Pop," 12 Aug. 2019 This is the place where a slapdash, value-free approach to governing was bound to lead us. E.j. Dionne Jr., The Mercury News, "Dionne: Trump’s China policy focuses on trade, yet ignores our values," 15 Aug. 2019 All four have the dubious claim to fame of informal strategizing leading to seat-of-the-pants implementation and slapdash results. Ramona Sentinel, "Ask Mr. Marketing: Something on the side," 24 July 2019 Some of them were slapdash licensing plays; others loving tributes to the decades of mythology contained within the Marvel universe. Peter Rubin, WIRED, "Marvel's Games Are Starting to Feel a Lot Like Its Movies," 19 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'slapdash.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of slapdash

circa 1792, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of slapdash was circa 1792

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Last Updated

16 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Slapdash.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 November 2019.

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More Definitions for slapdash


How to pronounce slapdash (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of slapdash

: quick and careless

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More from Merriam-Webster on slapdash

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for slapdash

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with slapdash

Spanish Central: Translation of slapdash

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