verb (used without object)

to slide down or along a surface, especially unsteadily, from side to side, or with some friction or noise: The box slithered down the chute.
to go or walk with a sliding motion: The snake slithered across the path.

verb (used with object)

to cause to slither or slide.


a slithering movement; slide.

Origin of slither

1150–1200; Middle English slitheren, variant of sliddren, Old English slid(e)rian, frequentative of slīdan to slide; see -er6
Related formsslith·er·y, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for slither

glide, slink, sneak, wriggle, crawl, skid, move, glissade, coast, skate, snake, slip

Examples from the Web for slither

Contemporary Examples of slither

  • Wayne LaPierre may have won the week, and he may slither away without Congress doing anything this time around.

    The Daily Beast logo
    LaPierre et Le Deluge

    Michael Tomasky

    April 6, 2013

  • On the day the Sun-Times finally sank, an Ontario court rejected Breeden's effort to slither out of my libel suits.

    The Daily Beast logo
    I Was Right

    Conrad Black

    April 3, 2009

Historical Examples of slither

  • If I see the Cat or the other one, I'll slither through their bones.

  • Slither it on good and thick and let it trickle down into the cracks.

    Walter and the Wireless

    Sara Ware Bassett

  • "I can't stand things that scuttle and slither and crawl," said Ives.

    Breaking Point

    James E. Gunn

  • It opened with a slither of wood and a rumble of sash weights.


    Frederik Pohl

  • We slither and slide to the bottom of the pit and gather fragments of steel.

    'Green Balls'

    Paul Bewsher

British Dictionary definitions for slither



to move or slide or cause to move or slide unsteadily, as on a slippery surface
(intr) to travel with a sliding motion


a slithering motion

Word Origin for slither

Old English slidrian, from slīdan to slide
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 slither

early 15c., variant of Middle English slidder "to slip, slide," from Old English slidrian "to slip, slide on a loose slope," a frequentative form of slidan "to slide" (see slide (v.)). For spelling change, cf. gather. Meaning "to walk in a sliding manner" is attested from 1848. In reference to reptile motion, attested from 1839. Related: Slithered; slithering.


"slithering movement," 1861, from slither (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper