\ 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 In Washington, members of the D.C. Council on Wednesday asked Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt about the city’s slow progress in identifying sources of new coronavirus infections, which could lead to shutting down activities such as indoor dining. Washington Post, "D.C., Maryland lawmakers grill health officials over coronavirus response, data," 12 Aug. 2020 The problem for traditional U.S. allies—Britain, France, and Germany, but also Japan and Australia—is that, unlike the quick hit of a diplomatic breakthrough with Trump, building support in Congress is slow. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, "Who Won the Great Trump Diplomatic Game?," 11 Aug. 2020 Milwaukee Election Commission Director Claire Woodall-Vogg said voter turnout had been slow at in-person polling locations but that about 48,000 absentee ballots had been returned as of 4 p.m. Ricardo Torres, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'This is a test run for November': No issues reported at polls as voters cast their ballots," 11 Aug. 2020 Asked why so much is still needed in Watts, Gipson said change is slow. Brian Melley, Star Tribune, "55 years after riots, Watts neighborhood still bears scars," 10 Aug. 2020 Asked why so much is still needed in Watts, Gipson said change is slow. Brian Melley, chicagotribune.com, "55 years after riots, Watts section of LA still bears scars," 10 Aug. 2020 Yet progress has been slow; Mr Diyabanza and his associates have lost patience. The Economist, "Legacies of violence Activist curators are sharpening the debate on restitution," 8 Aug. 2020 But progress has been slow, and several lawsuits have been consolidated. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Gold King mine spill left linger troubles on Navajo Nation," 8 Aug. 2020 Unfortunately justice has been slow in this particular case. Nicholas Rice, PEOPLE.com, "Takeoff Accused of Raping Woman at Los Angeles House Party as Migos Rapper's Attorney Denies Claim," 6 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Australian writer-director Natalie Erika James keeps the answer close through most of her debut, a sinister slow-blooming portrait of domestic horror. Leah Greenblatt, EW.com, "Emily Mortimer house horror Relic brings extra psychological layers: Review," 10 July 2020 That makes the predicament of local news akin to other slow-moving crises, among them climate change, the erosion of democratic norms, and the erosion of constitutional rights. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "The National Emergency at Your Doorstep," 11 July 2020 High-energy, fast-moving particles have short wavelengths, and slow-moving, low-energy particles have long wavelengths. William Charles Louis, Scientific American, "Hidden Neutrino Particles May Be a Link to the Dark Sector," 1 July 2020 James, BarbadosThis boutique, set on Barbados's Platinum Coast, combines a slow-going Caribbean mindset with five-star luxury. Shauna Beni, Condé Nast Traveler, "Black-Owned Hotels Throughout the World," 17 June 2020 On Tuesday, more moisture will enter the area, which will bring slow-moving storms that could drop heavy rain. Sarah Brookbank, The Enquirer, "Cincinnati weather: Heat index could reach 100, then thunderstorms," 7 July 2020 But a pandemic is a slow-moving process with high stakes. Author: Sandi Doughton, Anchorage Daily News, "COVID-19 meets the 2020 election: The perfect storm for misinformation," 7 July 2020 Flash flood risk: The slow-moving storms may eventually move into clusters capable of producing torrential downpours, with rainfall rates briefly topping three inches per hour. Matthew Cappucci, Washington Post, "Severe thunderstorm and flash flood watches issued for D.C. area through Monday evening," 6 July 2020 For instance, a slow-moving tropical storm can sometimes bring more damage than a fast-moving Category 1 hurricane. Tyler Mauldin, CNN, "The pandemic could lead to longer power outages following a hurricane, industry leaders warn," 28 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Yet despite the growing death toll and the strong consensus from health experts that masks are an effective way to slow the spread of the virus, masks are highly politicized. Washington Post, "Stop turning retail workers into mask police, union leader says," 30 July 2020 Trump's hesitation to embrace masks has contributed to a political controversy on the subject that has stunned international health officials as evidence that masks are an effective way to slow the spread of the virus continues to grow. Joel Shannon, USA TODAY, "Coronavirus updates: Daily US death toll rising after falling for months; Vatican warns shipowners; Trump wears a mask," 12 July 2020 Maggie Gyllenhaal hasn't let the quarantine slow her down. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, "Maggie Gyllenhaal talks making her directorial debut with Homemade Netflix short," 11 July 2020 The Democratic governor said on MSNBC's Morning Joe that social distancing does not go far enough and argued face coverings have been proven as an effective way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner, "New Jersey to require outdoor groups to wear face masks," 8 July 2020 Even cancer and a double mastectomy did not slow her down. Katharine Q. Seelye, BostonGlobe.com, "Angela Madsen, paralympian rower, dies on solo Pacific voyage at 60," 1 July 2020 Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner under President Trump, has said the universal masking is the easiest way to slow the spread of COVID-19. Allie Morris, Dallas News, "‘I don’t need his advice anymore’, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says of top COVID-19 expert Dr. FauciThis article has comments enabled.," 1 July 2020 In recent days, Pence and Ducey have donned masks in an effort to promote them as a way to slow the spread of the virus. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, The Arizona Republic, "Vice President Mike Pence returns to Arizona as COVID-19 surges," 1 July 2020 If the mirror is moving toward the incoming light, the kick will slow it down; if the mirror is moving away from the incoming light, the kick will speed it up. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Tiny pendulum may reveal gravity’s secrets," 26 June 2020

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

15 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

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

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