\ˈslȯth, ˈsläth also ˈslōth \
plural sloths\with ths or t͟hz \

Definition of sloth 

1a : disinclination to action or labor : indolence

b : spiritual apathy and inactivity the deadly sin of sloth

2 : any of various slow-moving arboreal edentate mammals (genera Bradypus and Choloepus) that inhabit tropical forests of South and Central America, hang from the branches back downward, and feed on leaves, shoots, and fruits — compare three-toed sloth, two-toed sloth

Illustration of sloth

Illustration of sloth

sloth 2

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Examples of sloth in a Sentence

the sins of gluttony and sloth a youth inclined more toward sloth than athletics

Recent Examples on the Web

The sloths, bears and big cats got ice blocks filled with frozen fruit and bones, according to a news release from the Chicago Zoological Society. Deanese Williams-harris,, "Animals beat the heat with frozen treats at Brookfield Zoo," 30 June 2018 That’s because mermaids are in — as are all things unicorn, llama, and sloth, according to local toy stores. Johanna Seltz,, "At local toy stores, mermaids are in (unicorns, too)," 5 July 2018 An ant colony, a sloth, kangaroos, rabbits, lizards, pigs, crabs, wallabies and monkeys are among the critters American has been asked to transport. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, "Smells, growls and disputes: AA urges DOT to allow only trained service dogs in airline cabins," 10 July 2018 Through sloth the roof sinks in and through indolence, the house leaks. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "Judgement and Epiphany on Pittsburgh’s Number 79 Bus," 11 May 2018 State motor vehicle offices everywhere have a reputation for slow service, an image so ingrained that in the animated film Zootopia, the local branch is staffed by sloths. Adam Vaccaro,, "RMV sets aside goal of service in 30 minutes as Real ID snags continue," 11 Apr. 2018 The sloth, about the size of a large sheepdog, hung upside down and stared at me with an expression of ineffable sadness on its furry face. New York Times, "Don’t Try to Catch a Komodo Dragon — Unless You’re David Attenborough," 29 May 2018 The sloths are part of the Species Survival Plan, a management effort by facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Alex Stuckey, Houston Chronicle, "Texas State Aquarium brings its sloth count to two," 29 May 2018 Another line of toe prints suggests a second person approached the sloth at an angle. Ben Guarino,, "Fossil footprints show a human chasing an extinct giant sloth," 26 Apr. 2018

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

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for sloth

Middle English slouthe, from slow slow

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Statistics for sloth

Last Updated

26 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for sloth

The first known use of sloth was in the 12th century

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English Language Learners Definition of sloth

: the quality or state of being lazy

: a type of animal that lives in trees in South and Central America and that moves very slowly


\ˈslȯth, ˈslōth\

Kids Definition of sloth

1 : the quality or state of being lazy

2 : an animal of Central and South America that hangs with its back downward and moves slowly along the branches of trees on whose leaves, twigs, and fruits it feeds

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