[ slaw ]
/ slɔ /
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Origin of slaw

1860–65, Americanism;<Dutch sla, short for saladesalad
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is slaw?

Slaw is a cold salad commonly made from sliced or chopped raw vegetables, especially cabbage or carrots, mixed with a dressing made with mayonnaise or vinegar. It often includes other seasonings and ingredients, such as onions and apples.

The word coleslaw can be used to mean the same thing (and slaw is often short for coleslaw). However, coleslaw typically refers to the kind made with cabbage, while slaw can refer to varieties made without cabbage, such as carrot slaw.

Slaw is most commonly served as a side dish, such as for barbecue, or a topping, such as for sandwiches. In the U.S., it’s associated with cookouts and picnics and known as a common side dish at some restaurants.

Example: My mom makes a tasty slaw with carrots and onions. 

Where does slaw come from?

The first records of the word slaw come from the 1860s. It comes from the Dutch sla, a contraction of salade, meaning “salad.”

Coleslaw is first recorded earlier and comes from the Dutch koolsla, in which kool means “cabbage.” The word cole ultimately comes from the Latin caulis, meaning “plant stalk” or “cabbage.” It can be used to refer to a number of plants in the genus that includes cabbage, kale, and other related vegetables. Related words include kohlrabi, a type of cabbage, and cauliflower.

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How is slaw used in real life?

Slaw is a common side dish at cookouts and some restaurants. It comes in many variations, including those made with mayonnaise- and vinegar-based dressings. Some people love it and some people think it’s gross.

Try using slaw!

True or False?

Slaw always includes cabbage.

How to use slaw in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for slaw

/ (slɔː) /

mainly US and Canadian short for coleslaw

Word Origin for slaw

C19: from Dutch sla, short for salade salad
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