Nearby words

  1. slab top,
  2. slab track,
  3. slab-sided,
  4. slabber,
  5. slabbery,
  6. slack off,
  7. slack suit,
  8. slack water,
  9. slack-baked,
  10. slack-jawed


    take up the slack,
    1. to pull in or make taut a loose section of a rope, line, wire, etc.: Take up the slack before releasing the kite.
    2. 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 slack

before 900; Middle English slac (adj.), Old English sleac, slæc; cognate with Old Norse slakr, Old High German slach, Latin laxus lax

Related forms


[ slak ]
/ slæk /


the fine screenings of coal.

Origin of slack

1400–50; late Middle English sleck < Middle Dutch slacke, slecke Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for slack

British Dictionary definitions for slack
See also slacks

Derived Formsslackly, adverbslackness, noun

Word Origin for slack

Old English slæc, sleac; related to Old High German slah, Old Norse slākr bad, Latin laxus lax


small pieces of coal with a high ash content

Word Origin for slack

C15: probably from Middle Low German slecke; related to Dutch slak, German Schlacke dross

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 slack
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper