\ 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 Tax cuts have canceled out much of the extra revenue resulting from a decade of slow but steady economic growth, and spending keeps going up. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's financial outlook a mixed bag: Here are 12 things to know," 10 Jan. 2020 And after a shaky, slow start, the Colts lived up to that billing. Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star, "What went wrong for the Colts defense this season, and where they need to improve," 7 Jan. 2020 Think of the 10½-year-old economic expansion as a slow but steady jogger who gradually stumbles to a halt in the latter stages of a marathon but can quickly resume the race after a brief rest. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "If a recession hits next year, it would probably be mild. But a recovery would also be tame.," 30 Dec. 2019 Melara ambles about at a slow pace, both hands on the patients’ cart, with a steady voice breaking up the otherwise quiet hallways. Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "This hospital worker used to think his singing was a 'burden.' Now he uses his voice to calm patients.," 27 Dec. 2019 With four losses in four games the Broncos haven’t started so slow or sunk so low since 1999. The Denver Post, "Denver Post’s 10 most popular Mark Kiszla columns of 2019," 23 Dec. 2019 The merger comes amid a global auto sales slowdown, which could worsen as economies around the world slow or even fall into recession. Charles Riley, CNN, "Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot owner agree deal to create world's third largest automaker," 18 Dec. 2019 The past year saw large protests in hundreds of cities around the globe and climate activists staged several rallies inside and outside the conference venue to express their frustration at the slow pace of the talks. Arkansas Online, "Disappointment as marathon climate talks end with slim deal," 15 Dec. 2019 The series is based on the police investigations following the horrific and fatal gangrape of a young woman in Delhi in 2012 which sparked national outrage about the safety of women and the slow pace of the law in delivering justice. Nyay Bhushan, The Hollywood Reporter, "Director of Netflix's 'Delhi Crime Story' on Show's Impact, Violence Against Women in India," 9 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Geminid meteors, radiating from the constellation Gemini, are often seen as slow-moving bright streaks of white light. Jay Bennett, Smithsonian Magazine, "Ten Celestial Events You Don’t Want to Miss in 2020," 14 Jan. 2020 For now, the family’s quest to establish some accountability in Layleen’s death had become the sort of dry, procedural, slow-moving, and official matter that does not inspire headlines. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "Culture War in the Workplace," 13 Jan. 2020 Generations of anglers have wiled away a lazy afternoon on the banks of a slow-moving river with a long rod and a pail full of nightcrawlers, a stringer of feisty channel cats at their feet. Dr. Jason Halfen, Outdoor Life, "5 Fish You Might Not Have Caught Through The Ice But Should," 2 Jan. 2020 On top of slow-moving lines and the anxiety of making your flight, there are also bathroom products to separate out, laptops to remove, and spare change to excavate from your jean pockets. Louis Cheslaw, Condé Nast Traveler, "Men's Slip-On Shoes That Are Practically Made for Getting Through Airport Security," 28 Oct. 2019 The initial distribution was marked by delays and confusion as residents lined up to wait in slow-moving lines. Nick Corasaniti, New York Times, "Newark Says Water Crisis Is Easing as Lead Filters Prove Mostly Effective," 23 Sep. 2019 The slow-moving Southeast rain and wind storm that swamped Florida on Sunday and Monday will finally pull away, although a few showers may linger along the Carolina and Georgia coasts. Editors, USA TODAY, "Christmas Eve weather, tracking Santa and what's open: 5 things you need to know Tuesday," 24 Dec. 2019 Videos shot by startled passengers and posted on social media showed the noisy, slow-moving accident, which left part of the Glory visibly mangled at the stern. SFChronicle.com, "News of the day from across the world, Dec. 20," 20 Dec. 2019 Even without the addition of WMG's inventory, the Direct Shot warehouse was unable to deal with the changing marketplace and was already poised to become a slow-moving problem waiting to befall the industry, says one music wholesaler. Ed Christman, Billboard, "Why There's 'No Magic Bullet' Solution to Music Industry's Distribution Problem," 20 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Demand was limited by the slowing economy and the government's decision to slash subsidies in order to thin out the country's overcrowded field of electric car makers. Sherisse Pham, CNN, "IPhone maker Foxconn wants to work with Fiat Chrysler on electric cars," 17 Jan. 2020 Given India’s slowing economy and the current global slump, Paul expects 2020 to bring even more bad news on that front. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "For better or for worse, the pink slip culture is India Inc’s new normal," 16 Jan. 2020 In China, the trade war has been only one factor behind the slowing economy. Keith Bradsher, New York Times, "A Trade Deal Meant to Heal Rifts Could Actually Make Them Worse," 16 Jan. 2020 Risks in the short and medium term include rising U.S.-EU trade tensions, the absence of a pact on future EU-U.K. trade ties, China’s slowing economy and Berlin’s reluctance to consider greater spending for fear of debt. Tom Fairless, WSJ, "German Growth Falls to Six-Year Low, Hit by Manufacturing Recession," 15 Jan. 2020 And a slowing economy put a crimp on the state’s finances. Richard Ruelas, AZCentral.com, "Don Bolles files: The bill that turned a reporter and father into an advocate for children," 30 Dec. 2019 China is grappling with an ageing population, environmental degradation and a slowing economy. The Economist, "Chinese technology With the state’s help, Chinese technology is booming," 27 Dec. 2019 But rising defaults, a slowing economy and a sovereign outlook downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service have given global funds further pause. Anurag Joshi, Bloomberg.com, "Weak Rupee Prompting Global Funds to Dump India Bonds," 28 Nov. 2019 The number of active oil and gas rigs in the U.S. has been falling through 2019 as companies have pulled rigs from operation due to a slowing global economy that have kept oil prices in a slump. Erin Douglas, Houston Chronicle, "U.S. oil and gas rig count dips again," 27 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

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Slow.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slowest. Accessed 20 January 2020.

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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).


not to be intimidated or subdued

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