\ 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 biggest upset saw North Little Rock finally come to life after a slow start and knock off Little Rock Parkview, which came into the game as our No. 1 team in Class 5A. Rex Nelson, Arkansas Online, 19 Sep. 2022 Cincinnati had a chance to take advantage of that range towards the end of the second quarter trailing 14-3 amidst another slow start. Michael Niziolek, cleveland, 19 Sep. 2022 That long-running problem was intensified by what critics say was former President Donald Trump's administration's slow response to Hurricane Maria, which extended the impact of the storm, including the longest blackout in American history. Glenn Gamboa, ajc, 14 Sep. 2022 The school district fired Police Chief Pete Arredondo for the slow law enforcement response to the shooting. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 8 Sep. 2022 When Princess Diana died in a car crash in August 1997, Queen Elizabeth's slow public response to the tragedy made many question her judgment. Simon Perry, Peoplemag, 6 Sep. 2022 Among the critics of the slow DTE response is U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, whose district includes Detroit and Downriver suburbs. Emma Stein, Detroit Free Press, 31 Aug. 2022 Montes told La Voz that while there has been a slow response from the government, the fear of being the next journalist on the list is still present. Diana García, The Arizona Republic, 31 Aug. 2022 The slow response of the U.S. public health system has galvanized a community that has always had to protect itself. Ofole Mgbako, STAT, 22 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The slow-moving cortege accompanied by motorcycle outriders traveled along the A4 toward Windsor, west of the capital, where the queen will be buried after a committal service at 11 a.m. ET. Joanna Sugden, WSJ, 19 Sep. 2022 The slow-moving Category 1 storm could drop upward of 30 inches of rain, the National Hurricane Center said. Reis Thebault, Washington Post, 18 Sep. 2022 The slow-moving meltdown of the homeowners insurance market, which has a tangle of causes and no clear solution, has left many Louisiana residents with a difficult choice: pay more for insurance, reduce their coverage, or go without it entirely. Jon Schuppe, NBC News, 16 Sep. 2022 While the majority of the region will see anywhere from half an inch of rain to an inch or two, any areas that are under any slow-moving storms producing torrential downpours could be in trouble. Jennifer Gray, CNN, 13 Sep. 2022 The National Weather Service said the combination of slow-moving storms and rain over the weekend could lead to flash flooding through the day today. Leigh Morgan, al, 5 Sep. 2022 The National Hurricane Center said the slow-moving storm posed no threat to land. Caroline Linton, CBS News, 4 Sep. 2022 Instead, Spirit kept traveling and reporting back until 2010, while Opportunity persisted in slow-moving Martian solitude until 2018. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 Sep. 2022 The culprit has been a slow-moving weather system that has soaked a swath of the South, forcing evacuations and washing away roads – last week parts of Texas were hit with up to 16 inches of rain that fell over a 24-hour stretch. John Bacon, USA TODAY, 29 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The central bank is expected to sharply raise interest rates again Wednesday in a bid to curb inflation, a move that will eventually slow the economy and likely ding company profits. Karen Langley, WSJ, 20 Sep. 2022 Police said officers searched the house and found the body in the tub in a natural mummified state, which occurs when a corpse is exposed to very dry conditions that slow typical decomposition. CBS News, 15 Sep. 2022 Speed was prioritized over security measures that could slow things down. Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post, 15 Sep. 2022 Some cancers have biomarkers that can be targeted by existing drugs that will slow a tumor’s growth. Zeke Miller And Carla K. Johnson, Orlando Sentinel, 12 Sep. 2022 Some cancers have biomarkers that can be targeted by existing drugs that will slow a tumor’s growth. Zeke Miller And Carla K. Johnson, Chron, 12 Sep. 2022 Some cancers have biomarkers that can be targeted by existing drugs that will slow a tumor’s growth. Zeke Miller And,, 12 Sep. 2022 But that is only if the state can overcome the many hurdles that often slow or stop mining projects, including a lack of roads and ports, high energy and development costs, and exploration and construction timelines that can take 20 years. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, 5 Sep. 2022 Both measures - one championed by Mayor London Breed and the other by a majority of the Board of Supervisors - would waive most of a complicated city approvals process that can slow down or kill affordable projects the city desperately needs. Mallory Moench, San Francisco Chronicle, 31 Aug. 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

21 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Slow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 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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