- not tight, taut, firm, or tense; loose: a slack rope.
- negligent; careless; remiss: slack proofreading.
- slow, sluggish, or indolent: He is slack in answering letters.
- not active or busy; dull; not brisk: the slack season in an industry.
- moving very slowly, as the tide, wind, or water.
- weak; lax.
- Nautical. easy(def 15a).
- in a slack manner.
- a slack condition or part.
- the part of a rope, sail, or the like, that hangs loose, without strain upon it.
- a decrease in activity, as in business or work: a sudden slack in output.
- a period of decreased activity.
- Geography. a cessation in a strong flow, as of a current at its turn.
- a depression between hills, in a hillside, or in the land surface.
- Prosody. (in sprung rhythm) the unaccented syllable or syllables.
- British Dialect. a morass; marshy ground; a hollow or dell with soft, wet ground at the bottom.
- to be remiss in respect to (some matter, duty, right, etc.); shirk; leave undone: He slacked the most important part.
- to make or allow to become less active, vigorous, intense, etc.; relax (efforts, labor, speed, etc.); lessen; moderate (often followed by up).
- to make loose, or less tense or taut, as a rope; loosen (often followed by off or out).
- to slake (lime).
- to be remiss; shirk one's duty or part.
- to become less active, vigorous, rapid, etc. (often followed by up): Business is slacking up.
- to become less tense or taut, as a rope; to ease off.
- to become slaked, as lime.
- take up the slack,
- to pull in or make taut a loose section of a rope, line, wire, etc.: Take up the slack before releasing the kite.
- to provide or compensate for something that is missing or incomplete: New sources of oil will take up the slack resulting from the embargo.
Origin of slack1
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- the fine screenings of coal.
Origin of slack2
Examples from the Web for slack
He knew I was a Chicago guy, and he cut me absolutely no slack.Bill Murray’s Words of Wisdom: On Comedy, the Greatness of In-N-Out, and Searching For Great Love
October 10, 2014
To the contrary: since the 2011 ouster of Gaddafi, the world has cut Libya a lot of slack.It’s Not the USA that Made Libya the Disaster it is Today
August 3, 2014
Other women can often be the worst at cutting any slack towards the love interest in a sex scandal.How Monica Lewinsky Changed the Media
May 9, 2014
But other Sunbelt locales, notably Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma have picked up much of the slack.Forget What the Pundits Tell You, Coastal Cities are Old News - it’s the Sunbelt that’s Booming
March 1, 2014
The second glitch came a few hours after that, when some of the cables used to pull the ship upright started to slack.The Raising of the Concordia
Barbie Latza Nadeau
September 17, 2013
Ayllon had the necklace with him in the slack of his doublet.The Trail Book
I was plenty busy taking in slack, so I did not notice Dick.The Forest
Stewart Edward White
The coves and hollows were better wooded and there were some stretches of slack water.The Long Labrador Trail
Too rash Love in its choice, paid you so largely service so slack!Graded Poetry: Second Year
Taut, now, the quivering lines; now slack; and so, let her go!Poems
William D. Howells
- not tight, tense, or taut
- negligent or careless
- (esp of water, etc) moving slowly
- (of trade, etc) not busy
- phonetics another term for lax (def. 4)
- in a slack manner
- a part of a rope, etc, that is slacktake in the slack
- a period of decreased activity
- a patch of water without current
- a slackening of a current
- prosody (in sprung rhythm) the unstressed syllable or syllables
- to neglect (one's duty, etc)
- (often foll by off) to loosen; to make slack
- chem a less common word for slake (def. 3)
- small pieces of coal with a high ash content
Word Origin and History for slack
Old English slæc "remiss, lax, characterized by lack of energy, sluggish, indolent, languid; slow, gentle, easy," from Proto-Germanic *slakas (cf. Old Saxon slak, Old Norse slakr, Old High German slah "slack," Middle Dutch lac "fault, lack"), from PIE root *(s)leg- "to be slack" (see lax).
Sense of "not tight" (in reference to things) is first recorded c.1300. As an adverb from late 14c. Slack-key (1975) translates Hawaiian ki ho'alu. Slack water (n.) "time when tide is not flowing" is from 1769. Slack-handed "remiss" is from 1670s. Slack-baked "baked imperfectly, half-baked" is from 1823; figuratively from 1840.
"coal dust," mid-15c., sleck, of uncertain origin, probably related to Middle Dutch slacke, Middle Low German slecke "slag, small pieces left after coal is screened," perhaps related to slagge "splinter flying off metal when it is struck" (see slag (n.)).
early 14c., "cessation" (of pain, grief, etc.), from slack (adj.). Meaning "a cessation of flow in a current or tide" is from 1756; that of "still stretch of a river" is from 1825. Meaning "loose part or end" (of a rope, sail, etc.) is from 1794; hence figurative senses in take up the slack (1930 figuratively) and slang cut (someone) some slack (1968). Meaning "quiet period, lull" is from 1851. Slacks "loose trousers" first recorded 1824, originally military.
1510s, "to moderate, make slack," back-formed from slack (adj.) after the original verb veered into the specialized sense of slake. Meaning "be remiss, inactive or idle, fail to exert oneself" is attested from 1540s; current use is probably a re-coining from c.1904 (see slacker, and cf. Old English slacful "lazy," sleacmodnes "laziness"). Related: Slacked; slacking.