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verb (used with object)
  1. to spread or apply thickly: to slather butter on toast.
  2. to spread something thickly on (usually followed by with): to slather toast with butter.
  3. to spend or use lavishly.
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  1. Often slathers. a generous amount: slathers of money.
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  1. open slather, Australian. complete freedom.
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Origin of slather

1810–20, in sense “to slip, slide”; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for slathering


  1. (usually plural) informal a large quantity
  2. open slather Australian and NZ slang a situation in which there are no restrictions; free-for-all
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verb (tr) US and Canadian slang
  1. to squander or waste
  2. to spread thickly or lavishly
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Word Origin

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper