\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

Especially for the beginners not yet cozy with violence, the weight of constantly grappling with your doubts and fears gives fighters a weary sloth-like appearance that is collared in many of Mr. Fink’s pre-fight shots. Gordon Marino, WSJ, "‘Larry Fink: The Boxing Photographs’ Review: A Ringside View of Humanity," 3 Oct. 2018 Costa Rica Irene EdwardsGreenSpot TravelShe can pull off helicopter flights over volcanoes or a day at a sloth sanctuary. Paul Brady, Condé Nast Traveler, "2018 Top Travel Specialists We Trust," 19 Oct. 2018 What can an astronaut, baby sloths, a sentimental music video and an MRI scanner reveal about your friends? Karen Kaplan,, "Brain scans reveal that friends really are on the same wavelength," 30 Jan. 2018 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

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

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sloth

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

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More Definitions for sloth



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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More from Merriam-Webster on sloth

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sloth

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sloth

Spanish Central: Translation of sloth

Nglish: Translation of sloth for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sloth for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about sloth

Comments on sloth

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to enclose within walls

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