slow·​ly ˈslō-lē How to pronounce slowly (audio)
: in a slow manner : not quickly, fast, early, rashly, or readily
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 slowly in a Sentence

Things are slowly getting better. walked slowly toward the ringing phone
Recent Examples on the Web Now that inflation is easing, the Fed may be poised to make another blunder by moving too slowly to cut rates and triggering a recession, some economists argue. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, 23 Feb. 2024 So far, Xi’s inner circle has moved slowly to strengthen China’s economic fundamentals. William Pesek, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 Among women who have a C-section and then give birth again, 14.6% have vaginal births, a percentage that has slowly but steadily increased since 2016. Elizabeth Cohen, STAT, 23 Feb. 2024 Confidence: Medium-High A look ahead Sunday night: Clouds may slowly increase, along with breezes. A. Camden Walker, Washington Post, 23 Feb. 2024 Miss Manners recognizes the inefficiency in this, but prefers it to the implication — as the peas slowly make their way down the table, stopping at each diner — that if the person had only waited, the dish would eventually have come around, if it hadn’t been all gobbled along the way. Judith Martin, The Mercury News, 22 Feb. 2024 The major plot line was Kyle and husband Mauricio Umansky's separation, which the show's been slowly, boringly building to for an eternity. Lester Fabian Brathwaite,, 21 Feb. 2024 After the Max crashes in 2018 and 2019, Boeing halted and then slowly resumed production of the Max planes, which were in service again in late 2020. Niraj Chokshi, New York Times, 21 Feb. 2024 Statistics are showing that people are traveling more slowly and for longer, with an emphasis on enriching, fulfilling and holistic experiences. Judy Koutsky, Forbes, 10 Feb. 2024 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of slowly was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near slowly

Cite this Entry

“Slowly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on slowly

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