\ ˈslü How to pronounce slew (audio) \

Definition of slew

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: a large number a slew of books


Definition of slew (Entry 2 of 4)

past tense of slay


\ ˈslü How to pronounce slew (audio) \
variants: or less commonly
slewed also slued; slewing also sluing; slews also slues

Definition of slew (Entry 3 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to turn (something, such as a telescope or a ship's spar) about a fixed point that is usually the axis
2 : to cause to skid : veer slew a car around a turn

intransitive verb

1 : to turn, twist, or swing about : pivot
2 : skid


Definition of slew (Entry 4 of 4)

less common spelling of 1b

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Did You Know?

Slew appeared as an American colloquialism in the early 19th century. Its origins are unclear, but it is perhaps taken from the Irish "slua," a descendant of Old Irish slúag, meaning "army," "host," or "throng." "Slew" has several homographs (words that are spelled alike but different in meaning, derivation, or pronunciation) in English. These include: "slew" as the past tense of the verb "slay"; "slew" as a spelling variant of "slough," a word which is also commonly pronounced \SLOO\ and which means "swamp," "an inlet on a river," or "a creek in a marsh or tide flat"; and the verb slew, meaning "to turn, veer, or skid."

Examples of slew in a Sentence

Noun He has written a slew of books. we still have a slew of work to do on this project Verb He slewed the telescope three degrees south.
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First Known Use of slew


1839, in the meaning defined above


circa 1769, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for slew


perhaps from Irish slua army, host, throng, from Old Irish slúag; akin to Lithuanian slaugyti to tend


origin unknown

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Time Traveler for slew

Time Traveler

The first known use of slew was circa 1769

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Cite this Entry

“Slew.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce slew (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of slew

 (Entry 1 of 2)

informal : a large number of people or things


How to pronounce slew (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of slew (Entry 2 of 2)

: to turn or slide in another direction very quickly


Kids Definition of slew

past tense of slay

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More from Merriam-Webster on slew

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for slew

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with slew

Spanish Central: Translation of slew

Nglish: Translation of slew for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of slew for Arabic Speakers

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