slough

1 of 4

noun (1)

ˈslü How to pronounce slough (audio)
ˈslau̇;
 in the US (except in New England)  is usual for sense 1 with those to whom the sense is familiar ˈslü;
 British usually  for both senses ˈslau̇
1
a
: a place of deep mud or mire
b or less commonly slew or slue
(1)
: swamp
(2)
: an inlet on a river
also : backwater
(3)
: a creek in a marsh or tide flat
2
: a state of moral degradation or spiritual dejection
sloughy
ˈslü-ē
ˈslau̇-ē How to pronounce slough (audio)
adjective

slough

2 of 4

verb (1)

sloughed; sloughing; sloughs

transitive verb

: to engulf in a slough

intransitive verb

: to plod through or as if through mud : slog

slough

3 of 4

noun (2)

variants or less commonly sluff
1
: the cast-off skin of a snake
2
: a mass of dead tissue separating from an ulcer
3
: something that may be shed or cast off

slough

4 of 4

verb (2)

variants or less commonly sluff
sloughed also sluffed; sloughing also sluffing; sloughs also sluffs

intransitive verb

1
a
: to become shed or cast off
b
: to cast off one's skin
c
: to separate in the form of dead tissue from living tissue
2
: to crumble slowly and fall away

transitive verb

1
: to cast off
2
a
: to get rid of or discard as irksome, objectionable, or disadvantageous
usually used with off
b
: to dispose of (a losing card in bridge) by discarding

Did you know?

There are two verbs spelled slough in English, as well as two nouns, and both sets have different pronunciations. The first noun, referring to a swamp or a discouraged state of mind, is pronounced to rhyme with either blue or cow. Its related verb, which can mean "to plod through mud," has the same pronunciation. The second noun, pronounced to rhyme with cuff, refers to the shed skin of a snake (as well as anything else that has been cast off). Its related verb describes the action of shedding or eliminating something, just like a snake sheds its skin. This slough comes from Middle English slughe and is related to slūch, a Middle High German word meaning "snakeskin."

Choose the Right Synonym for slough

discard, cast, shed, slough, scrap, junk mean to get rid of.

discard implies the letting go or throwing away of something that has become useless or superfluous though often not intrinsically valueless.

discard old clothes

cast, especially when used with off, away, or out, implies a forceful rejection or repudiation.

cast off her friends

shed and slough imply a throwing off of something both useless and encumbering and often suggest a consequent renewal of vitality or luster.

shed a bad habit
finally sloughed off the depression

scrap and junk imply throwing away or breaking up as worthless in existent form.

scrap all the old ways
would junk our educational system

Examples of slough in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Powered by 10% alpha hydroxy acid, this scrub combines chemical and physical exfoliation to gently slough away pesky red bumps, leaving you with smooth, non-irritated skin. Sarah Han, Allure, 28 Oct. 2023 Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing Facial Pads A set of dual-sized facial pads enriched with enzymes, probiotics, and lactic acid to slough away dead surface cells, reduce bumpy texture, and even skin tone. Kiana Murden, Vogue, 5 Oct. 2023 And for any residual dullness that’s left on the skin, Goop’s dry brush will slough it off with ease. Kiana Murden, Vogue, 27 Oct. 2023 Over time, the bits of rock sloughed off the comet drift away from its orbital path, so the meteors spread out in space. Phil Plait, Scientific American, 11 Aug. 2023 In court papers accusing Boeing of trying to slough off its share of the cleanup bill, the port said the total cost could top $1 billion. Lulu Ramadan, ProPublica, 24 Sep. 2023 But the prolonged swelling and other physical trauma damaged her skin so much that it’s been sloughing off in the days since the incident. Jonathan Edwards, Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2023 That thickening triggers the cells at the top of the uterine lining to slough off irregularly, Dr. Soliman explained. Jenny McCoy, Health, 23 Aug. 2023 Luckily, a comprehensive treatment for it comes in one bottle: Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment gently sloughs away congestion and damaged layers with lactic acid and brightens with licorice root. Liana Schaffner, Allure, 21 Sep. 2023
Noun
The Park Service poisoned the slough again in late August, but that fix is clearly neither complete nor lasting. WIRED, 4 Nov. 2023 What’s there: The 85-acre property along the Columbia and Whittaker sloughs was at imminent risk of development, prompting the city of Portland and the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District to buy it in 2014 for $5 million. Gwozniac, oregonlive, 30 July 2023 The slough of Mardenborough's despond comes towards the end of the film when a crash at the Nürburgring results in the death of a spectator. Elana Scherr, Car and Driver, 11 Aug. 2023 Pixi's Glow Tonic sloughs away dead skin and brightens scars using five percent glycolic acid. Nerisha Penrose, ELLE, 28 Aug. 2023 As Hess checked on the dumpster, she was greeted by Robin, who has lived at the encampment near the slough for more than four years with her two Rottweilers, Baby and Convict. Gwozniac, oregonlive, 30 July 2023 Sisco said restoring the slough can be an example for bringing back more natural waterways. Ian James, Los Angeles Times, 27 June 2023 By the end of the show, Once Upon a One More Time sloughs off any semblance of a plot and heads, probably wisely, toward the latter. Vulture, 22 June 2023 But as farming continued, so did the de-watering of the lake, an effort that was supported by the state of California in the form of inexpensive land sales to those who agreed to help build levees and turn the sloughs to soil. Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, 25 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'slough.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English sloughe, slo, from Old English slōh; akin to Middle High German slouche ditch

Noun (2)

Middle English slughe; akin to Middle High German slūch snakeskin

First Known Use

Noun (1)

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

Verb (1)

1846, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

1720, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of slough was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near slough

Cite this Entry

“Slough.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slough. Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

slough

1 of 3 noun
ˈslü How to pronounce slough (audio)
ˈslau̇;
 in the U.S.  (except New England) ˈslü,
 is usual for sense 1;  ˈslau̇,
 is more frequent for sense 2 
1
also slew or slue
ˈslü
: a wet and marshy or muddy place (as a swamp or backwater)
2
: a discouraged, degraded, or hopeless state

slough

2 of 3 noun
ˈsləf
variants also sluff
1
: the cast-off skin of a snake
2
: a mass of dead tissue separating from living tissue
3
: something that may be shed or cast off

slough

3 of 3 verb
variants also sluff
1
a
: to cast off or become cast off
b
: to cast off one's skin
c
: to separate dead tissue from living tissue
d
: to get rid of or discard as bothersome, objectionable, or not to one's advantage
2
: to crumble slowly and fall away
Etymology

Noun

Old English slōh "swamp"

Noun

Middle English slughe "the cast-off skin of a snake"

Medical Definition

slough

1 of 2 noun
: dead tissue separating from living tissue
especially : a mass of dead tissue separating from an ulcer

slough

2 of 2 intransitive verb
: to separate in the form of dead tissue from living tissue
dermal sloughing

transitive verb

: to cast off
slough dead tissue
the uterine lining is sloughed

Geographical Definition

Slough

geographical name

town in Berkshire, southeast central England, west of London population 155,000

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