slow

1 of 3

adjective

1
a
: mentally dull : stupid
a slow student
b
: naturally inert or sluggish
2
a
: lacking in readiness, promptness, or willingness
b
: not hasty or precipitate
was slow to anger
3
a
: moving, flowing, or proceeding without speed or at less than usual speed
traffic was slow
b
: exhibiting or marked by low speed
he moved with slow deliberation
c
: not acute
a slow disease
d
: low, gentle
slow fire
4
: requiring a long time : gradual
a slow recovery
5
: having qualities that hinder rapid progress or action
a slow track
6
a
: registering behind or below what is correct
the clock is slow
b
: less than the time indicated by another method of reckoning
c
: that is behind the time at a specified time or place
7
a
: lacking in life, animation, or gaiety : boring
the first chapter is a bit slow
b
: marked by reduced activity
business was slow
a slow news week
slowish adjective
slowness noun

slow

2 of 3

adverb

: slowly
Slow vs. Slowly: Usage Guide

Some commentators claim that careful writers avoid the adverb slow, in spite of the fact that it has had over four centuries of usage.

have a continent forbearance till the speed of his rage goes slower William Shakespeare

In actual practice, slow and slowly are not used in quite the same way. Slow is almost always used with verbs that denote movement or action, and it regularly follows the verb it modifies.

beans … are best cooked long and slow Louise Prothro

Slowly is used before the verb

a sense of outrage, which slowly changed to shame Paul Horgan

and with participial adjectives.

a slowly dawning awareness … of the problem Amer. Labor

Slowly is used after verbs where slow might also be used

burn slow or slowly

and after verbs where slow would be unidiomatic.

the leadership turned slowly toward bombing as a means of striking back David Halberstam

slow

3 of 3

verb

slowed; slowing; slows

transitive verb

: to make slow or slower : slacken the speed of
slow a car
often used with down or up

intransitive verb

: to go or become slower
production of new cars slowed sharply
Choose the Right Synonym for slow

delay, retard, slow, slacken, detain mean to cause to be late or behind in movement or progress.

delay implies a holding back, usually by interference, from completion or arrival.

bad weather delayed our arrival

retard suggests reduction of speed without actual stopping.

treatment that retards tumor growth

slow and slacken also imply a reduction of speed, slow often suggesting deliberate intention

she closed her eyes and slowed her breathing

, slacken an easing up or relaxing of power or effort.

on hot days runners slacken their pace

detain implies a holding back beyond a reasonable or appointed time.

unexpected business had detained her

Examples of slow in a Sentence

Adjective The buyers were slow to act, and the house was sold to someone else. He was a quiet boy who seldom spoke, and some people thought he was a little slow. Business is slow during the summer. The first few chapters are slow, but after that it gets better. Adverb My computer is working slow. you need to go slow with this experiment, or you'll make mistakes Verb The car slowed and gradually came to a stop. The extra weight slowed the truck. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
In the wake of Kissinger’s death, in November 2023, his critics on the left have not been slow to repeat their old list of indictments, ranging from the bombing of civilians in Cambodia to supporting dictators in Chile, Pakistan, and elsewhere. Niall Ferguson, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 The development of hardware is always going to be slower than software development, creating demand for AI optimization providers like SqueezeBits. John Kang, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2024 This process is significantly slower than how the military clears territory. Justin Ling, WIRED, 19 Feb. 2024 McDowell just missed out on his first career pole Wednesday by a blink of an eye – a lap 0.071 seconds slower than Logano’s. Travis Caldwell, CNN, 18 Feb. 2024 True, Karl Strauss was slow to embrace innovative India Pale Ales and Belgian-style ales. Peter Rowe, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Feb. 2024 Funds have been slow to be obligated, particularly in some city departments that have faced challenges with supply chain delays and turnover in staffing and leadership. Emily Opilo, Baltimore Sun, 15 Feb. 2024 On top of that, massively successful artists are often slow to finalize the deals that dictate what percentage of royalties writers and producers are owed, and what fee is thrown to producers. Elias Leight, Billboard, 15 Feb. 2024 Java Ferns Another hardy and low-maintenance option for freshwater tanks that Vella recommends, java ferns thrive in low to moderate-light conditions, have a slow growth rate, and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. Cori Sears, Better Homes & Gardens, 6 Feb. 2024
Adverb
Crossings slow in Eagle Pass An aerial view shows migrants walking next to razor wire after crossing the Rio Grande to seek asylum at sunset in Eagle Pass, Texas, on Feb. 4, 2024. Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, 8 Feb. 2024 These are a super flexible shoe, and the insole is actually removable for anyone who wants to start slow in the barefoot world and work their way into a true barefoot feel. Maggie Slepian, Travel + Leisure, 19 Jan. 2024 The district advised residents to ensure that storm drains are clear to avoid potential minor flooding and to drive slow, since visibility will be lower. Austin Turner, The Mercury News, 19 Jan. 2024 On top of that, our hair grew back much slower and had a finer texture, making future waxing experiences even easier. Jessie Quinn, Peoplemag, 15 Jan. 2024 The committee of advocates, lawyers, healthcare professionals and correctional experts has also struggled to navigate state government, which much of the group found moved slower than anticipated. Jaden Edison, Hartford Courant, 13 Jan. 2024 The chant grew louder and slower: Jew boy, Jew boy! Jordan Castro, Harper's Magazine, 9 Jan. 2024 The film, which cost $25 million and stars Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell, has rebounded nicely after starting slow in North America. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 14 Jan. 2024 Iowa beats Indiana 84-57 The Hawkeyes started slow but ended up making 15 of 36 3-point attempts (42%). Evan Frank, The Indianapolis Star, 14 Jan. 2024
Verb
The camera, in its ambitious hurry to capture a wide cross section of people and cultures, rarely slows down to observe the doubts or convictions of any one of them. Siddhant Adlakha, Variety, 20 Feb. 2024 Weather events such as extremely high temperatures can also slow down air travel. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, 20 Feb. 2024 Year-over-year inflation slowed to 2.6% in January, from 3% in December, a possible sign of weaker economic activity. Hanna Ziady, CNN, 19 Feb. 2024 But after merging with Diamondback, that growth will slow to less than 2%, with the cash that would have gone to leasing drilling rigs and related costs freed up for dividends and buybacks. Kevin Crowley, Fortune, 19 Feb. 2024 The boys almost immediately encounter heartless human smugglers, who don’t even hit the brakes to slow down when a migrant is accidentally thrown from the back of a speeding, overloaded pickup truck. Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post, 20 Feb. 2024 Stay calm and still to slow down the spread of venom. Helena Wegner, Sacramento Bee, 20 Feb. 2024 Sales of EVs slowed in the final months of 2023, triggering concerns that consumer demand for them might be flagging. Alan Ohnsman, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 Sales of EVs have slowed, putting the goal further out of reach for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that the auto industry has insisted on big electric trucks and SUVs that the supply chain isn’t prepared to affordably accommodate. Wes Davis, The Verge, 18 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'slow.' 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

Adjective

Middle English, from Old English slāw; akin to Old High German slēo dull

First Known Use

Adjective

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

Adverb

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1557, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near slow

Cite this Entry

“Slow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slow. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

slow

1 of 3 adjective
1
a
: not quick to understand
a slow learner
b
: stupid
c
: naturally slow-moving
2
a
: unwilling to take prompt action
b
: not easily aroused or excited
was slow to anger
3
a
: moving, flowing, or proceeding without speed or at less than usual speed
traffic was slow
b
: not vigorous or active
a slow fire
c
: taking place at a low rate or over a considerable period of time
slow progress in negotiations
4
: having qualities that hinder or stop rapid progress or action
a slow racetrack
5
a
: registering behind or below what is correct
the clock is slow
b
: that is behind the time at a specified time or place
6
: lacking in activity or liveliness
a slow market
slowish adjective
slowly adverb
slowness noun

slow

2 of 3 adverb
: in a slow manner

slow

3 of 3 verb
: to make or go slow or slower
often used with down or up

More from Merriam-Webster on slow

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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