verb (1)
\ ˈslip How to pronounce slip (audio) \
slipped; slipping

Definition of slip

 (Entry 1 of 5)

intransitive verb

1a : to move with a smooth sliding motion
b : to move quietly and cautiously : steal
c : elapse, pass
2a(1) : to escape from memory or consciousness
(2) : to become uttered through inadvertence
b : to pass quickly or easily away : become lost let an opportunity slip
3 : to fall into error or fault : lapse
4a : to slide out of place or away from a support or one's grasp
b : to slide on or down a slippery surface slip on the stairs
c : to flow smoothly
5 : to get speedily into or out of clothing slipped into his coat
6 : to fall off from a standard or accustomed level by degrees : decline
7 : sideslip

transitive verb

1 : to cause to move easily and smoothly : slide
2a : to get away from : elude, evade slipped his pursuers
b : to free oneself from the dog slipped its collar
c : to escape from (one's memory or notice) their names slip my mind
3 : shed, cast the snake slipped its skin
4 : to put on (a garment) quickly usually used with on slip on a coat
5a : to let loose from a restraining leash or grasp
b : to cause to slip open : release, undo slip a lock
c : to let go of
d : to disengage from (an anchor) instead of hauling
6a : to insert, place, or pass quietly or secretly
b : to give or pay on the sly
7 : slink, abort
8 : dislocate slipped his shoulder
9 : to transfer (a stitch) from one needle to another without working a stitch
10 : to avoid (a punch) by moving the body or head quickly to one side


noun (1)

Definition of slip (Entry 2 of 5)

1a : a sloping ramp extending out into the water to serve as a place for landing or repairing ships
b : a ship's or boat's berth between two piers
2 : the act or an instance of departing secretly or hurriedly gave his pursuer the slip
3a : a mistake in judgment, policy, or procedure
b : an unintentional and trivial mistake or fault : lapse a slip of the tongue
4 : a leash so made that it can be quickly slipped
5a : the act or an instance of slipping down or out of a place a slip on the ice also : a sudden mishap
b : a movement dislocating parts (as of a rock or soil mass) also : the result of such movement
c : a fall from some level or standard : decline a slip in stock prices
6a : an undergarment made in dress length and usually having shoulder straps also : half-slip
b : a case into which something is slipped specifically : pillowcase
7 : a disposition or tendency to slip easily
8 : the action of sideslipping : an instance of sideslipping


noun (2)

Definition of slip (Entry 3 of 5)

1a : a small shoot or twig cut for planting or grafting : scion
2a : a long narrow strip of material
b : a small piece of paper
3 : a young and slender person a slip of a girl
4 : a long seat or narrow pew


verb (2)
slipped; slipping

Definition of slip (Entry 4 of 5)

transitive verb

: to take cuttings from (a plant) : divide into slips slip a geranium


noun (3)

Definition of slip (Entry 5 of 5)

: a mixture of finely divided clay and water used especially by potters (as for casting or decorating wares or in cementing separately formed parts)

Choose the Right Synonym for slip

Noun (1)

error, mistake, blunder, slip, lapse mean a departure from what is true, right, or proper. error suggests the existence of a standard or guide and a straying from the right course through failure to make effective use of this. procedural errors mistake implies misconception or inadvertence and usually expresses less criticism than error. dialed the wrong number by mistake blunder regularly imputes stupidity or ignorance as a cause and connotes some degree of blame. diplomatic blunders slip stresses inadvertence or accident and applies especially to trivial but embarrassing mistakes. a slip of the tongue lapse stresses forgetfulness, weakness, or inattention as a cause. a lapse in judgment

First Known Use of slip

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (2)

1530, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

1640, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for slip

Verb (1)

Middle English slippen, probably going back to Old English *slippan, weak verb cognate with Middle Dutch slippen "to lose one's footing, slip," Middle Low German slippen, Old High German pesliphen, pislipfan "to lose one's footing, stumble," intensive derivative of Germanic *sleipan- "to slide, slip" — more at slipper entry 1

Note: The Oxford English Dictionary, first edition, and Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology take the Middle English verb to be a loan from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German, though it seems equally or more probable that it is a native formation, as was Walter Skeat's view.

Noun (1)

Middle English slype, slipp "sloping landing place for a boat," noun derivative of slippen "to slip entry 1"

Noun (2)

Middle English slyp "edge of a garment," probably borrowed from Middle Dutch sleppe, slippe "loose end of a garment" or Middle Low German slippe, in same sense, of uncertain origin

Note: The earliest sense of this word, "edge of a garment," is first attested in the English-Latin dictionary Promptorium parvulorum (ca. 1440), in the entry "Slyp, or skyrte: Lascinia [for classical lacinia 'border of a garment, edge, hem']." Presumably derived from this meaning is sense 2. The meaning "scion, offspring" (sense 1 and hence sense 3) is first attested in Wynkyn de Worde's printed edition (1495) of the medieval encyclopedia De proprietatis rerum, adapted from John of Trevisa's 14th-century English translation. It is not clear how "scion, offspring" might relate to the other English meanings ("strip of material" > "shoot of a plant"?), or to the presumed Middle Dutch/Middle Low German etyma, which have no comparable sense. -- The word slyp is also attested in the sense "cleft, crack" in late Middle Dutch (the dictionary Teuthonista of Duytschlender of Gert van der Schueren, 1477); it has been suggested that this was the earliest sense, with "cleft in a piece of fabric" leading to the meaning "loose end of a garment." The noun slyp is clearly derived from an earlier verb slippen "to split," which may be a weak derivative *slippōn- (< *slib-no-) of a Germanic strong verb *sleiban- evident in Old English tōslāf "(s/he) split, cleaved," assumed infinitive tōslīfan (see sliver entry 1).

Verb (2)

derivative of slip entry 3

Noun (3)

Middle English slyp, slype, slyppe "mud, slime," going back to Old English slypa, slyppe, slipa (masculine or feminine weak noun) "slime, paste, pulp," going back to Germanic *slupjōn-, zero-grade noun derivative from a Class 2 strong verb *sleupan- "to creep, glide" (whence Old English slūpan "to slip, glide, move softly," Middle Dutch slūpen "to creep, glide," Old High German sliufan "to slip, creep," Gothic sliupan "to slip (in), enter stealthily"), probably back-formed from an intensive derivative *slupp- (as in Old High German slopfāri "itinerant monk," intslupfen "to slip away, escape") of a hypothetical verbal base *sleub- "slip," perhaps going back to Indo-European *sleu̯bh — more at sleeve

Note: This account of the origin of *sleupan- is based on R. Lühr, Expressivität und Lautgesetz im Germanischen (Heidelberg, 1988), p. 352; her hypothesis is taken up in Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben (2. Auflage, 2001), s.v. *sleu̯bh-. As the author points out, this back-formation would have to extend as far as the ancestor of Gothic to account for the verb in that language.

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The first known use of slip was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Slip.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for slip


\ ˈslip How to pronounce slip (audio) \
slipped; slipping

Kids Definition of slip

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : to move easily and smoothly He slipped the ring on his finger.
2 : to slide into or out of place or away from a support Try to slip the bolt and open the door. The book slipped out of my hand.
3 : to slide on a slippery surface so as to lose balance I slipped on the wet floor.
4 : to pass or let pass or escape without being noted, used, or done Time slipped by.
5 : to move into or out of a place without being noticed She slipped from the room.
6 : to escape the attention or memory of It just slipped my mind.
7 : to put on or take off a piece of clothing quickly and easily The child slipped out of his coat.
8 : to make or become known by mistake "Who's Shiloh?" she asks, and David realizes he's let it slip.— Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Shiloh
9 : to go from one state or condition to an often worse one Your grades are slipping.
10 : to get away from One of the robbers slipped the police.
slip up
: to make a mistake



Kids Definition of slip (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : the act or an instance of sliding down or out of place a slip on the ice
2 : a secret or quick departure or escape Their prisoner gave them the slip.
3 : a small mistake : blunder
4 : a fall from some level or standard : decline a slip in stock prices
5 : a place for a ship between two piers
6 : an undergarment for women made in dress or skirt length



Kids Definition of slip (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : a usually small piece of paper and especially one used for some record a permission slip
2 : a long narrow piece of material


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