slip·​pery | \ˈsli-p(ə-)rē \
slipperier; slipperiest

Definition of slippery 

1a : causing or tending to cause something to slide or fall slippery roads

b : tending to slip from the grasp a slippery fish

2a : not firmly fixed : unstable

b : not precise or fixed in meaning : ambiguous, elusive

3 : not to be trusted : tricky

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Other Words from slippery

slipperiness noun

Examples of slippery in a Sentence

The trails were muddy and slippery. Fish are slippery to hold. The sign cautions: “Slippery when wet.”
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Recent Examples on the Web

Ash could disrupt travel on Interstate 5, the main route between California and Oregon, masking windshields and making roads slippery, even impassable. Rong-gong Lin Ii,, "A California volcano once obliterated a forest and propelled ash 280 miles. Experts say it offers a warning," 22 May 2018 Street cars stressed that AWD provides more control on slippery surfaces as well as when racing. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "Racing innovations made cars safer: Rearview mirrors, laser headlights," 23 May 2018 Roosts bars should be made of wood (metal and plastic can be cold and slippery) and flat. Janet Eastman,, "On the market: Homes with a creative chicken coop (photos)," 7 Apr. 2018 Four-wheel antilock disc brakes reduce wheel lockup and help maintain steering control when braking hard on slippery surfaces. Emma Jayne Williams, star-telegram, "Buick’s Cascada convertible has room for up to four people, starts at $33,065 | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 17 Mar. 2018 But the slippery surfaces require sturdy legs and good shoes, and make this a dry-weather walk only. 1. Charles Fleming,, "A shaded hike in La Cañada Flintridge that's perfect on a hot, sunny L.A. day," 10 Mar. 2018 My usual testing on the curves can be hazardous to one’s health on slippery roads, but the handling still showed a sporty side for a largish SUV. Scott Sturgis,, "BMW X3 gets a redesign for 2018," 28 June 2018 Officials responded to 10 crashes on state highways in Massachusetts Monday morning, collisions resulting from the wet April snow and slippery roads, State Police said. Elise Takahama,, "Wet April snow leads to 10 crashes on state highways," 2 Apr. 2018 The slippery roads during the evening commute only made the traffic worse. Hailey Branson-potts,, "Trump's visit draws fans cheering him to 'Make America Great Again' — and foes venting their anger directly at him for first time," 14 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'slippery.' 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 slippery

circa 1500, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for slippery

alteration of Middle English slipper

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Statistics for slippery

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for slippery

The first known use of slippery was circa 1500

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More Definitions for slippery



English Language Learners Definition of slippery

: difficult to stand on, move on, or hold because of being smooth, wet, icy, etc.

: not easy to understand or identify in an exact way

: not able to be trusted


slip·​pery | \ˈsli-pə-rē \
slipperier; slipperiest

Kids Definition of slippery

1 : having a surface smooth or wet enough to make holding onto or moving or standing on difficult a slippery fish A man fell on the slippery walk.

2 : not to be trusted : tricky a slippery politician

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More from Merriam-Webster on slippery

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for slippery

Spanish Central: Translation of slippery

Nglish: Translation of slippery for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of slippery for Arabic Speakers

Comments on slippery

What made you want to look up slippery? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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