or sluff

[ sluhf ]
See synonyms for slough on
  1. the outer layer of the skin of a snake, which is cast off periodically.

  2. Pathology. a mass or layer of dead tissue separated from the surrounding or underlying tissue.

  1. anything that is shed or cast off.

  2. Cards. a discard.

verb (used without object)
  1. to be or become shed or cast off, as the slough of a snake.

  2. to cast off a slough.

  1. Pathology. to separate from the sound flesh, as a slough.

  2. Cards. to discard a card or cards.

verb (used with object)
  1. to dispose or get rid of; cast (often followed by off): to slough off a bad habit.

  2. to shed as or like a slough.

  1. Cards. to discard (cards).

Verb Phrases
  1. slough over, to treat as slight or trivial: to slough over a friend's mistake.

Origin of slough

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English slough, slugh(e), slouh “skin of a snake”; cognate with Low German sluwe, slu “husk, peel,” German Schlauch “skin, wineskin, bag”

Other words for slough

Other words from slough

  • slough·i·ness, noun
  • sloughy, adjective
  • un·sloughed, adjective
  • un·slough·ing, adjective

Other definitions for slough (2 of 2)

[ slou for 1, 2, 4; sloo for 3 ]

  1. an area of soft, muddy ground; swamp or swamplike region.

  2. a hole full of mire, as in a road.

  1. Also slew, slue .Northern U.S. and Canadian. a marshy or reedy pool, pond, inlet, backwater, or the like.

  2. a condition of degradation, despair, or helplessness.

Origin of slough

First recorded before 900; Middle English slough(e), slouh(e) “muddy place, mud hole,” Old English slōh, slōg; cognate with Middle Low German slōch, Middle High German sluoche “ditch”; further origin uncertain Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use slough in a sentence

  • Had I put them in hot water, I should in all probability have lost my fingers and toes; they p. 61would have sloughed off.

    A Night in the Snow | Rev. E. Donald Carr

British Dictionary definitions for slough (1 of 3)


/ (slaʊ) /

  1. a hollow filled with mud; bog

  2. (sluː) US and Canadian

    • (in the prairies) a large hole where water collects or the water in such a hole

    • (in the northwest) a sluggish side channel of a river

    • (on the Pacific coast) a marshy saltwater inlet

  1. despair or degradation

Origin of slough

Old English slōh; related to Middle High German sluoche ditch, Swedish slaga swamp

Derived forms of slough

  • sloughy, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for slough (2 of 3)


/ (slʌf) /

  1. any outer covering that is shed, such as the dead outer layer of the skin of a snake, the cellular debris in a wound, etc

  2. Also: sluff bridge a discarded card

  1. (often foll by off) to shed (a skin, etc) or (of a skin, etc) to be shed

  2. Also: sluff bridge to discard (a card or cards)

Origin of slough

C13: of Germanic origin; compare Middle Low German slū husk, German Schlauch hose, Norwegian slō fleshy part of a horn

Derived forms of slough

  • sloughy, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for Slough (3 of 3)


/ (slaʊ) /

  1. an industrial town in SE central England, in Slough unitary authority, Berkshire; food products, high-tech industries. Pop: 126 276 (2001)

  2. a unitary authority in SE central England, in Berkshire. Pop: 118 800 (2003 est). Area: 28 sq km (11 sq miles)

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

Scientific definitions for slough


[ slŭf ]

  1. The dead outer skin shed by a reptile or an amphibian.

  1. To shed an outer layer of skin.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.