noun (1)
\ ˈslü How to pronounce slough (audio) , ˈslau̇; in the US (except in New England) ˈslü is usual for sense 1 with those to whom the sense is familiar; British usually ˈslau̇ for both senses \

Definition of slough

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : a place of deep mud or mire
b or less commonly slew or slue \ ˈslü How to pronounce slough (audio) \
(1) : swamp
(2) : an inlet on a river also : backwater
(3) : a creek in a marsh or tide flat
2 : a state of moral degradation or spiritual dejection


verb (1)
sloughed; sloughing; sloughs

Definition of slough (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

: to engulf in a slough

intransitive verb

: to plod through or as if through mud : slog


noun (2)
\ ˈsləf How to pronounce slough (audio) \
variants: or less commonly sluff

Definition of slough (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : the cast-off skin of a snake
2 : a mass of dead tissue separating from an ulcer
3 : something that may be shed or cast off


verb (2)
\ ˈsləf How to pronounce slough (audio) \
variants: or less commonly sluff
sloughed also sluffed; sloughing also sluffing; sloughs also sluffs

Definition of slough (Entry 4 of 4)

intransitive verb

1a : to become shed or cast off
b : to cast off one's skin
c : to separate in the form of dead tissue from living tissue
2 : to crumble slowly and fall away

transitive verb

1 : to cast off
2a : to get rid of or discard as irksome, objectionable, or disadvantageous usually used with off
b : to dispose of (a losing card in bridge) by discarding

Other Words from slough

Noun (1)

sloughy \ ˈslü-​ē How to pronounce slough (audio) , ˈslau̇-​ē \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for slough

Verb (2)

discard, cast, shed, slough, scrap, junk mean to get rid of. discard implies the letting go or throwing away of something that has become useless or superfluous though often not intrinsically valueless. discard old clothes cast, especially when used with off, away, or out, implies a forceful rejection or repudiation. cast off her friends shed and slough imply a throwing off of something both useless and encumbering and often suggest a consequent renewal of vitality or luster. shed a bad habit finally sloughed off the depression scrap and junk imply throwing away or breaking up as worthless in existent form. scrap all the old ways would junk our educational system

Did you know?

There are two verbs spelled slough in English, as well as two nouns, and both sets have different pronunciations. The first noun, referring to a swamp or a discouraged state of mind, is pronounced to rhyme with either blue or cow. Its related verb, which can mean "to plod through mud," has the same pronunciation. The second noun, pronounced to rhyme with cuff, refers to the shed skin of a snake (as well as anything else that has been cast off). Its related verb describes the action of shedding or eliminating something, just like a snake sheds its skin. This slough comes from Middle English slughe and is related to slūch, a Middle High German word meaning "snakeskin."

First Known Use of slough

Noun (1)

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

Verb (1)

1846, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

1720, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for slough

Noun (1)

Middle English sloughe, slo, from Old English slōh; akin to Middle High German slouche ditch

Noun (2)

Middle English slughe; akin to Middle High German slūch snakeskin

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

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Cite this Entry

“Slough.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for slough


\ ˈslü How to pronounce slough (audio) , ˈslau̇ \

Kids Definition of slough

: a wet marshy or muddy place


\ ˈsləf How to pronounce slough (audio) \

Medical Definition of slough

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: dead tissue separating from living tissue especially : a mass of dead tissue separating from an ulcer


intransitive verb

Medical Definition of slough (Entry 2 of 2)

: to separate in the form of dead tissue from living tissue dermal sloughing

transitive verb

: to cast off slough dead tissue the uterine lining is sloughed

Slough geographical name

\ ˈslau̇ How to pronounce Slough (audio) \

Definition of Slough

town in Berkshire, southeast central England, west of London population 155,000


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