\ ˈslō How to pronounce slow (audio) \

Definition of slow

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : mentally dull : stupid a slow student
b : naturally inert or sluggish
2a : lacking in readiness, promptness, or willingness
b : not hasty or precipitate was slow to anger
3a : 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
6a : 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
7a : 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



Definition of slow (Entry 2 of 3)

: slowly


slowed; slowing; slows

Definition of slow (Entry 3 of 3)

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

Other Words from slow


slowish \ ˈslō-​ish How to pronounce slow (audio) \ adjective
slowness noun

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. language barriers retarded their progress slow and slacken also imply a reduction of speed, slow often suggesting deliberate intention medication slowed the patient's heart rate , 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

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

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 The state has spent more than $25 million in legal fees and settlements with former inmates, including a girl who was severely brain-damaged in a suicide attempt that guards were slow to respond to. Sarah Volpenhein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 13 May 2022 Wednesday's report also notes the history of the Interior Department's slow response to the horrible boarding school conditions. CBS News, 12 May 2022 After Shanghai’s leaders were criticized for being too slow to react as infections there soared, officials are unlikely to stray from the zero-Covid playbook of quickly applying stringent measures, even with low levels of infections. Rachel Liang, WSJ, 11 May 2022 On Tuesday, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture, asserting that federal officials have been too slow to respond. New York Times, 10 May 2022 The Fed, which most economists say was much too slow to recognize the inflation threat, is now raising rates aggressively. Arkansas Online, 7 May 2022 That’s why the Fed, which most economists say was much too slow to recognize the inflation threat, is now raising rates aggressively. Paul Wiseman, Anchorage Daily News, 6 May 2022 The Fed, which most economists say was much too slow to recognize the inflation threat, is now raising rates aggressively. Paul Wiseman, ajc, 6 May 2022 Key website performance metrics suffer when your site is too slow. John Keehler, Forbes, 3 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb And in a just world, that would have been the slow-burning banger of 2020. Chris Willman, Variety, 3 May 2022 This is her showcase even as she’s framed by goons who burst into glitter, a slow-burning joke about a knife-wielding raccoon, and a philosophical debate between two rocks in a corner of a multiverse where biological life never existed. Amy Nicholson, WSJ, 24 Mar. 2022 While the slow-burning western psychodrama has sturdy cross-branch support from disparate ends of the Academy, many forecasters have noted that its highbrow appeal might not be enough to sustain the swell of passion building for other titles. Joey Nolfi,, 8 Mar. 2022 And in Montana this past summer, slow-burning coal reserves fanned by winds sparked a pair of blazes that burned a combined 267 square miles on and around the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. Matthew Brown And Colleen Slevin, The Christian Science Monitor, 31 Jan. 2022 Dack, who won the U.S. dramatic competition’s directing prize, establishes a sense of humdrum reality that turns hypnotic, then tragic, by slow-burning increments. Los Angeles Times, 30 Jan. 2022 The slow-burning HBO Max series about a flu-like plague that rips through the world leaving the earth decimated and its inhabitants almost nonexistent may be too real for some. Kathleen Newman-bremang,, 13 Jan. 2022 The slow-burning drama, adapted from Thomas Savage's 1967 book, wrestles with potent themes of toxic masculinity, gaslighting and repressed desire. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, 2 Dec. 2021 Kirsten Dunst is the current frontrunner for 2022’s best-supporting-actress Oscar for her devastating turn in Jane Campion’s slow-burning Western The Power of the Dog. Radhika Seth, Vogue, 24 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb After frenzied summer of homebuying, Central Indiana home sales slow down: As is consistent with pre-pandemic years, homebuying slowed down in the fall. Ko Lyn Cheang, The Indianapolis Star, 24 May 2022 Food began to run out because the roads to Kyiv had been cut after Ukrainian forces blew up a bridge south of Dymer to slow the Russian advance. Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, 19 May 2022 Plastic has even helped in efforts to slow climate change: lightweight plastic auto parts have made vehicles more fuel-efficient, and plastic packaging can require less energy to produce and transport than alternatives like glass or metal. New York Times, 21 Apr. 2022 The Ukrainian military, blowing up bridges to slow the invaders’ advance, had made their neighborhood practically unreachable; friends told Yana that Russian soldiers had commandeered her house. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, 31 Mar. 2022 Earlier this month, the Fed moved to increase interest rates by a quarter percentage point in an effort to slow inflation by dampening consumer demand and economic growth. Megan Leonhardt, Fortune, 31 Mar. 2022 Scenes in the Kyiv suburb of Irpin were particularly intense as people crossed a makeshift wooden bridge, after Ukrainians blew up the concrete one leading to Kyiv to slow the Russian advance. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 10 Mar. 2022 Tucked inside the forests on the northwestern edges of Kyiv, Ukrainian artillery batteries have battered Russian positions inside Irpin and Bucha in attempts to slow a possible advance. Washington Post, 10 Mar. 2022 Civilians leaving the Kyiv suburb of Irpin were forced to make their way across the slippery wooden planks of a makeshift bridge, because the Ukrainians blew up the concrete span leading to Kyiv days ago to slow the Russian advance. Evgeniy Maloletka, Anchorage Daily News, 10 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'slow.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of slow


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


14th century, in the meaning defined above


1557, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for slow


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

Learn More About slow

Time Traveler for slow

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near slow



slow as molasses

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Statistics for slow

Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Slow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for slow


\ ˈslō How to pronounce slow (audio) \
slower; slowest

Kids Definition of slow

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : moving, flowing, or going at less than the usual speed slow music Traffic was slow.
2 : taking more time than is expected or desired We had a slow start on the project.
3 : not as smart or as quick to understand as most people
4 : not active Business was slow.
5 : indicating less than is correct My watch is five minutes slow.
6 : not easily aroused or excited Grandmother is slow to anger.

Other Words from slow

slowly adverb
slowness noun


slowed; slowing

Kids Definition of slow (Entry 2 of 3)

: to go or make go less than the usual speed The car slowed around the corner. The heavy load slowed the wagon.


slower; slowest

Kids Definition of slow (Entry 3 of 3)

: in a slow way Can you talk slower?

More from Merriam-Webster on slow

Nglish: Translation of slow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of slow for Arabic Speakers


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