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 Over the next two months, patients underwent physical therapy as their braces were slowly adjusted to increase the range of motion. Katie Camero, NBC News, 16 Nov. 2023 Not only is pay for the top tiers of white-collar workers growing more slowly than for the people who serve them coffee and look after their kids, but many of the office elite are facing an entirely different job market—one with fewer prospects and more requirements. Irina Ivanova, Fortune, 14 Nov. 2023 In recent years, Ios is shedding its old reputation and has been slowly—but carefully—reinventing itself with impressive food offerings, varied and thoughtful accommodation offerings, and artistic endeavors, while making sure to preserve its pristine beaches and natural beauty. Devorah Lev-Tov, Condé Nast Traveler, 14 Nov. 2023 Based in the leafy middle-class neighborhood of Viaducto Piedad — today, the heart of Mexico’s small community of first-generation Chinese immigrants — El Paisa serves an unusually subtle version, its flavor dominated by sweet alliums that caramelize slowly as the day wears on. Jorge Valencia Mariano Fernandez, New York Times, 14 Nov. 2023 Josiah, terrified by the looming threat of years in prison that had been slowly materializing since his first call with Peterson, immediately agreed. Andy Greenberg, WIRED, 14 Nov. 2023 Heavy or intense rains aren’t expected, but rainfall amounts will slowly build through the end of the week. Grace Toohey, Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2023 The girl learned new words slowly and struggled to pronounce them correctly, mixing up similar-sounding words. Sarah Carr, Scientific American, 10 Nov. 2023 On Tuesday, thousands of vehicles loaded with household goods were moving slowly toward the border in Peshawar, a city in northwest Pakistan. Mushtaq Yusufzai, NBC News, 1 Nov. 2023 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 28 Nov. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on slowly

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