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verb (used with object), slugged, slug·ging.
  1. to strike heavily; hit hard, especially with the fist.
  2. to hit or drive (a baseball) very hard or a great distance.
verb (used without object), slugged, slug·ging.
  1. to hit or be capable of hitting hard.
  2. to trudge, fight, or push onward, as against obstacles or through mud or snow: The infantry slugged up the hill and dug in.
  1. a hard blow or hit, especially with a fist or baseball bat.
  1. slug it out,
    1. to fight, especially with fists, until a decisive victory has been achieved.
    2. to succeed or survive by constant and intense struggle.

Origin of slug2

1820–30; orig. in phrase hit with a slug; see slug1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for slug it out


  1. any of various terrestrial gastropod molluscs of the genera Limax, Arion, etc, in which the body is elongated and the shell is absent or very much reducedCompare sea slug Related adjective: limacine
  2. any of various other invertebrates having a soft slimy body, esp the larvae of certain sawflies
  3. informal, mainly US and Canadian a slow-moving or lazy person or animal

Word Origin

C15 (in the sense: a slow person or animal): probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Norwegian (dialect) sluggje


  1. an fps unit of mass; the mass that will acquire an acceleration of 1 foot per second per second when acted upon by a force of 1 pound. 1 slug is approximately equal to 32.17 pounds
  2. metallurgy a metal blank from which small forgings are worked
  3. a bullet or pellet larger than a pellet of buckshot
  4. mainly US and Canadian a metal token for use in slot machines, etc
  5. printing
    1. a thick strip of type metal that is less than type-high and is used for spacing
    2. a similar strip carrying a type-high letter, used as a temporary mark by compositors
    3. a metal strip containing a line of characters as produced by a linecaster
  6. a draught of a drink, esp an alcoholic one
  7. a magnetic core that is screwed into or out of an inductance coil to adjust the tuning of a radio frequency amplifier

Word Origin

C17 (bullet), C19 (printing): perhaps from slug 1, with allusion to the shape of the animal


verb slugs, slugging or slugged
  1. to hit very hard and solidly, as in boxing
  2. (intr) US and Canadian to plod as if through snow
  3. (tr) Australian and NZ informal to charge (someone) an exorbitant price
  4. slug it out informal to fight, compete, or struggle with fortitude
  1. an act of slugging; heavy blow
  2. Australian and NZ informal an exorbitant charge or price

Word Origin

C19: perhaps from slug ² (bullet)
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

Word Origin and History for slug it out



"shell-less land snail," 1704, originally "lazy person" (early 15c.); related to sluggard.



"lead bit," 1620s, perhaps a special use of slug (n.1), perhaps on some supposed resemblance. Meaning "token or counterfeit coin" first recorded 1881; meaning "strong drink" first recorded 1756, perhaps from slang fire a slug "take a drink," though it also may be related to Irish slog "swallow." Journalism sense is from 1925, originally a short guideline for copy editors at the head of a story.



"a hard blow," 1830, dialectal, of uncertain origin; perhaps related to slaughter or perhaps a secondary form of slay.



"deliver a hard blow with the fist," 1862, from slug (n.3). Related: Slugged; slugging. Slugging-match is from 1878.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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