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[slik] /slɪk/
verb (used with object)
to make sleek or smooth.
to use a slicker on (skins or hides).
Informal. to make smart or fine; spruce up (usually followed by up).
Metallurgy. a small trowel used for smoothing the surface of the mold.
any woodworking chisel having a blade more than 2 inches (5 cm) wide.
Origin of slick2
before 900; Middle English slicken (v.), Old English slician; akin to Old Norse slīkja to give a gloss to
Related forms
unslicked, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for slicked
Historical Examples
  • Without thinking he straightened his tie and slicked back his oily black hair.

    The Eye of Wilbur Mook H. B. Hickey
  • So in a little while I slicked up some and went on around to her house.

    Ruggles of Red Gap Harry Leon Wilson
  • The grease which is slicked off when “setting out in grease” is collected and sold.

  • The goods are slicked out, oiled up to samm, reset and dried out.

    Animal Proteins Hugh Garner Bennett
  • Dane slicked up the galley, trying to put things away as neatly as Mura kept them.

    Plague Ship Andre Norton
  • When I had staked out my pony, I went in and slicked up some.

    The Indians' Last Fight Dennis Collins
  • "I see no use in it," said he, passing his hand over his hair "slicked" down in the lumber-jack fashion.

    The Riverman Stewart Edward White
  • The Army of the Potomac had been slicked up a little for the occasion, and their marching was much better.

    Drum Taps in Dixie Delavan S. Miller
  • To-morrow we are to have monthly inspection, everything being "slicked up" in preparation.

    An Artilleryman's Diary Jenkin Lloyd Jones
  • If he doesnt go with me I miss my guess, he murmured as he donned his vest and coat and slicked his hair down with a wet brush.

    Center Rush Rowland Ralph Henry Barbour
British Dictionary definitions for slicked


flattering and glib: a slick salesman
adroitly devised or executed: a slick show
(informal, mainly US & Canadian) shrewd; sly
(informal) superficially attractive: a slick publication
(mainly US & Canadian) smooth and glossy; slippery
a slippery area, esp a patch of oil floating on water
a chisel or other tool used for smoothing or polishing a surface
the tyre of a racing car that has worn treads
verb (transitive)
(mainly US & Canadian) to make smooth or sleek
(US & Canadian, informal) (usually foll by up) to smarten or tidy (oneself)
(often foll by up) to make smooth or glossy
Derived Forms
slickly, adverb
slickness, noun
Word Origin
C14: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Icelandic, Norwegian slikja to be or make smooth
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 slicked



Old English -slician (in nigslicod "newly made sleek"), from Proto-Germanic *slikojan, from base *slikaz (cf. Old Norse slikr "smooth," Old High German slihhan "to glide," German schleichen "to creep, crawl, sneak," Dutch slijk "mud, mire"), from PIE *sleig- "to smooth, glide, be muddy," from root *(s)lei- "slimy" (see slime (n.)). Related: Slicked; slicking.


1620s, a kind of cosmetic, from slick (v.). Meaning "smooth place on the surface of water caused by oil, etc." is attested from 1849. Meaning "a swindler, clever person" is attested from 1959.


early 14c., "smooth, glossy, sleek" (of skin or hair); sense of "clever in deception" is first recorded 1590s; that of "first-class, excellent" is from 1833. Related: Slickly; slickness.

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



  1. Smooth and clever; smart: She's a very slick talker (1599+)
  2. Cunning; crafty: more than a match for any slick city lawyer (1807+)
  3. Excellent; nifty: The soup was ''simply slick'' (1843+)
  4. Glib and superficial; without real substance: They turn out people with slick plastic personalities (1920+)


  1. A magazine printed on glossy paper and usually having some artistic or intellectual pretensions, as distinguished from pulp magazines: magazines, from top slicks to minor pulps (1934+)
  2. n automobile tire with a very smooth tread: My Sting Ray is light, the slicks are startin' to spin (1950s+ Hot rodders)
  3. A police bureaucrat regarded as self-serving by the rank and file: But no way am I hanging around to talk to the slicks on this one (1980s+ New York City police)

[earlier 1800s uses were in comparative phrases like slick as bear's grease and slick as molasses]

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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