verb (used with object)

to spread or apply thickly: to slather butter on toast.
to spread something thickly on (usually followed by with): to slather toast with butter.
to spend or use lavishly.


Often slathers. a generous amount: slathers of money.


    open slather, Australian. complete freedom.

Origin of slather

1810–20, in sense “to slip, slide”; origin uncertain Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for slathering

Contemporary Examples of slathering

  • It does push him toward drawing a caricature of his own, one of slathering, bloodsucking right-wingers.

    The Daily Beast logo
    In Defense of the British Worker

    Peter Hoskin

    July 14, 2011

  • Beads, too, are his naïf equivalent to Old Masters slathering on their layers of expensive oils.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Chris Ofili's Art of Brightness

    Olivia Cole

    February 4, 2010

Historical Examples of slathering

British Dictionary definitions for slathering



(usually plural) informal a large quantity
open slather Australian and NZ slang a situation in which there are no restrictions; free-for-all

verb (tr) US and Canadian slang

to squander or waste
to spread thickly or lavishly

Word Origin for slather

C19: of unknown origin
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 slathering



"spread liberally," 1847, of uncertain origin. Early 19c. local glossaries from western England have the word with a sense "to slip or slide."

Slather on the manure on all the hoed crops, if you have it; if not buy of your improvident neighbor. ["Genesee Farmer," June 1847]

Sometimes said to be from a dialectal noun meaning "large amount" (usually as plural, slathers), but this is first attested 1855. Related: Slathered; slathering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper