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[sley] /sleɪ/
verb (used with object), slew or slayed, (especially for def 4); slain; slaying.
to kill by violence.
to destroy; extinguish.
  1. to impress strongly; overwhelm, especially by humor:
    Your jokes slay me.
  2. to make a strong impression with:
    She really slayed her performance last night.
Obsolete. to strike.
verb (used without object), slew or slayed, (especially for def 7); slain; slaying.
to kill or murder.
Slang. to strongly impress or overwhelm someone:
His whole album slays.
Origin of slay
before 900; Middle English sleen, slayn, Old English slēan; cognate with Dutch slaan, German schlagen, Old Norse slā, Gothic slahan “to strike, beat”
Related forms
slayable, adjective
slayer, noun
unslayable, adjective
1. murder, slaughter, massacre, butcher, assassinate. 2. annihilate, ruin. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for slayer
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was necessary that the Spaniards be pacified, and the slayer could not be found.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
  • He was my father, Sire, and I saw him slain—aye, and slew the slayer.

    Fair Margaret H. Rider Haggard
  • He was, in fact, a slayer of beasts—a foreman at the slaughter-house.

    The Slave Of The Lamp Henry Seton Merriman
  • They sought for the slayer of their friend with diligence and zeal.

  • By his dress he knew that he was his pursuer and Spurling's slayer.

    Murder Point

    Coningsby Dawson
  • The blood could not possibly have been the victim's, therefore it must have been the slayer's.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • That the slayer was wounded indeed we know, since there was blood upon Godolphin's sword.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • Name of Vishnu in his aspect of slayer of the proud demon, Madhu.

    My Reminiscences Rabindranath Tagore
British Dictionary definitions for slayer


verb (transitive) slays, slaying, slew, slain
(archaic or literary) to kill, esp violently
(slang) to impress (someone) sexually
(obsolete) to strike
Derived Forms
slayer, noun
Word Origin
Old English slēan; related to Old Norse slā, Gothic, Old High German slahan to strike, Old Irish slacaim I beat
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for slayer

late 14c., agent noun from slay (v.). The Old English agent noun was slaga "slayer, killer."



Old English slean "to smite, strike, beat," also "to kill with a weapon, slaughter" (class VI strong verb; past tense sloh, slog, past participle slagen), from Proto-Germanic *slahan, from root *slog- "to hit" (cf. Old Norse and Old Frisian sla, Danish slaa, Middle Dutch slaen, Dutch slaan, Old High German slahan, German schlagen, Gothic slahan "to strike"). The Germanic words are from PIE root *slak- "to strike" (cf. Middle Irish past participle slactha "struck," slacc "sword").

Modern German cognate schlagen maintains the original sense of "to strike." Meaning "overwhelm with delight" (mid-14c.) preserves one of the wide range of meanings the word once had, including, in Old English, "stamp (coins); forge (weapons); throw, cast; pitch (a tent), to sting (of a snake); to dash, rush, come quickly; play (the harp); gain by conquest."



"instrument on a weaver's loom to beat up the weft," Old English slæ, slea, slahae, from root meaning "strike" (see slay (v.)), so called from "striking" the web together. Hence the surname Slaymaker "maker of slays."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for slayer



To impress someone powerfully, esp to provoke violent and often derisive laughter: Pardon me, this will slay you/ The boys who slay me are the ones who have set pieces to recite when they answer the phone (1593+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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