\ 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)


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

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Other Words from slow


slowish \ ˈslō-​ish How to pronounce slowish (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Among those who disagree with Macron is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who favors a slower, pragmatic, unified approach to NATO's problems. Alexander Smith, NBC News, "NATO meeting: Trump is far from the only problem on alliance's 70th birthday," 3 Dec. 2019 By comparison, other egrets will fish in any kind of water, taking a slower, more methodical approach. Jenny Staletovich, orlandosentinel.com, "Florida’s red tide is back. Rare bird species is latest victim," 2 Dec. 2019 Fields was slow to leave the field on his final play of last Saturday’s 28-17 victory over Penn State, but Ohio State did not express any hesitation about his availability for today’s game. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Watch Justin Fields and Ohio State football arrive at Michigan for The Game," 30 Nov. 2019 By comparison, other egrets will fish in any kind of water, taking a slower, more methodical approach. Jenny Staletovich, sun-sentinel.com, "Florida’s red tide is back. One of North America’s rarest bird species is among its latest victims," 30 Nov. 2019 By morning, the low-and-slow residual heat would result in a stew known as cholent. Krista Stevens, Longreads, "All Hail the Inventor of the Crock Pot: Irving Nachumsohn," 28 Nov. 2019 Despite the Indian government initiating its own national campaign to eliminate smallpox in 1962, vaccinating the entire population was painfully slow and challenging–especially with the country’s rapidly growing population. Namrata Ganneri, Quartz India, "The unsung women who helped eradicate smallpox from India," 28 Nov. 2019 Yet for many people, rural life still embodies their dream of a welcoming place where life is slower, friendlier, more old-fashioned; where everybody knows their neighbors and where doors can still be left unlocked at night. John Carlisle, Freep.com, "Her husband's sudden death left her to run struggling U.P. motel — and she can't walk away," 28 Nov. 2019 Digital strategies are under review in all three levels of Canada’s government, but policy change is slow, and smart city technologies change much faster. Alex Ryan, Quartz, "Can smart cities help their residents without hurting their privacy?," 27 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The northern part of the state has already been getting drenched for days as a slow-moving storm lingered right off the coast of San Francisco and Sacramento, Shackelford said. Christina Maxouris, CNN, "Winter storm's last snowfall over New England is making for dangerous morning commute conditions," 3 Dec. 2019 This approach controls for slow-moving societal changes that affect infant health independent of the weather, like access to health care. Alan Barreca, The Conversation, "Pregnant women have a higher risk of delivering early on unseasonably hot days," 2 Dec. 2019 The search began moments after the floor gave way, when dust filled the air and tons of wet concrete flowed like a slow-moving river over everything and everyone in its path. Sharon Coolidge, Cincinnati.com, "'We will do whatever we can': Inside the search for the man buried in building collapse," 27 Nov. 2019 The age of analytics, when every player’s value can be compared with everyone else with a similar metric, is a primary reason for the slow-moving offseason, agent Scott Boras suggested at the GM meetings. Paul Sullivan, chicagotribune.com, "Column: White Sox off to a fast start, but for most of baseball it looks like another slow-moving offseason," 27 Nov. 2019 That keeps the waterfowl, raptors and songbirds habituated to the slow-moving vehicles and wary to people. Tom Stienstra, SFChronicle.com, "More than 1 million waterfowl star in driving tour of Sacramento National Wildlife Complex," 23 Nov. 2019 In much the same way, the cold, dense air speeding down the mountainside hit the slow-moving pool of air in the Sacramento Valley, most likely generating the powerful rotation that formed the Carr Fire tornado [see graphic above]. Jason M. Forthofer, Scientific American, "Can Scientists Predict Fire Tornadoes?," 20 Nov. 2019 The story is an unusual thriller, a slow-moving mystery with much of the evidence in plain view (President Donald Trump’s tweets) but the motive hidden. Hal Boedeker, orlandosentinel.com, "Trump impeachment inquiry: Mystery of our time | Commentary," 17 Nov. 2019 That something is Kaeser’s plan to continue his slow-rolling breakup of Siemens with the carve-out of the company’s power, oil and gas and renewable-energy businesses. Washington Post, "Recession Watch Starts at the 18th Hole for These CEOs," 20 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The trend that took over the US and beyond a couple of years ago is nowhere near slowing down. Courtney Thompson, CNN Underscored, "Get ready for the holidays with these Instagram-worthy cheese board ideas," 5 Dec. 2019 But the Fed is widely thought to have achieved its goal of a soft landing in which it's slowed growth enough to keep the tightest job market in a half-century from igniting inflation but not so much as to cause a downturn. Arkansas Online, "Spending aids in bolstering U.S. economy," 28 Nov. 2019 If cronyism increasingly misallocates resources, theoretically policymakers can redistribute income without significantly slowing growth and diminishing prosperity — the proverbial free lunch. Edward Conard, National Review, "Don’t Let The Great Reversal Mislead You," 25 Nov. 2019 Recent figures pointed to slowing economic growth, though the annual rate of 3 percent achieved in the third quarter of the year was still among the fastest in Europe. BostonGlobe.com, "“I receive this victory with joy, thankfulness, modesty, and with faith in Romania,” said the 60-year-old former mayor of the city of Sibiu, a member of Romania’s ethnic German minority who was a high school physics teacher before entering politics.," 25 Nov. 2019 This year, the company cut back employee bonuses and has offered buyouts in an effort to reduce labor costs in the face of slowing global growth. Ben Casselman, New York Times, "How FedEx Cut Its Tax Bill to $0," 17 Nov. 2019 By 1989, intermittent uprisings throughout Warsaw Pact countries, the increasing militarism of Soviet governments across the region and slowing economic growth within the Eastern Bloc set the stage for revolution. Time, "Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution Started 30 Years Ago—But It Was Decades in the Making," 16 Nov. 2019 Mortgage rates have fallen since the end of 2018, while the Fed reduced rates three times amid trade uncertainty and slowing global growth. Alex Tanzi, chicagotribune.com, "U.S. household debt rises for 21st quarter lifted by mortgages," 14 Nov. 2019 For Alibaba, the early results from the 24-hour shopping bonanza indicated that Chinese consumption remains strong despite slowing economic growth. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "Singles Day sales top $38 billion despite trade tensions and protests," 11 Nov. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of slow


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


15th 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

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Time Traveler for slow

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for slow

Last Updated

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Slow.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slow. Accessed 15 December 2019.

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More Definitions for slow

How to pronounce slow (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of slow

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: not moving quickly : not able to move quickly
: not happening quickly : taking more time than is expected or wanted
: not operating quickly



English Language Learners Definition of slow (Entry 2 of 3)

: in a slow way or at a low speed



English Language Learners Definition of slow (Entry 3 of 3)

: to begin to move at a lower speed
: to make (something, such as a car) move at a lower speed
: to become slower
\ 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?

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More from Merriam-Webster on slow

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for slow

Spanish Central: Translation of slow

Nglish: Translation of slow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of slow for Arabic Speakers

Comments on slow

What made you want to look up slow? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


delight or enjoyment

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