Origin of slow

before 900; Middle English; Old English slāw sluggish, dull; cognate with Dutch sleeuw; cf. sloth
Related formsslow·ly, adverbslow·ness, nouno·ver·slow, adjectiveo·ver·slow·ly, adverbo·ver·slow·ness, nounul·tra·slow, adjectiveul·tra·slow·ly, adverbun·slow, adjectiveun·slow·ly, adverbun·slow·ness, nounun·slowed, adjective

Synonyms for slow

Synonym study

1, 2. Slow, deliberate, gradual, leisurely mean unhurried and not happening rapidly. That which is slow acts or moves without haste or rapidity: a slow procession of cars. Deliberate implies the slowness that marks careful consideration before and while acting: a deliberate and calculating manner. Gradual suggests the slowness of something that advances one step at a time: a gradual improvement in service. That which is leisurely moves with the slowness allowed by ample time or the absence of pressure: an unhurried and leisurely stroll. 6. See dull.

Antonyms for slow

1–3. fast. 19. advance.

Usage note

As an adverb, slow has two forms, slow and slowly. Slowly appeared first in the 15th century; slow came into use shortly thereafter. Both are standard today in certain uses.
Originally, slow was used both preceding and following the verb it modified. Today, it is used chiefly in imperative constructions with short verbs of motion ( drive, run, turn, walk, etc.), and it follows the verb: Drive slow. Don't walk so slow. This use is more common in speech than in writing, although it occurs widely on traffic and road signs. Slow also combines with present participles in forming adjectives: slow-burning; slow-moving. In this use it is standard in all varieties of speech and writing.
Slowly is by far the more common form of the adverb in writing. In both speech and writing it is the usual form in preverb position ( He slowly drove down the street. The couple slowly strolled into the park ) and following verbs that are not imperatives ( He drove slowly down the street. The couple strolled slowly through the park ). See also quick, sure.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for slowest

Contemporary Examples of slowest

Historical Examples of slowest

British Dictionary definitions for slowest



performed or occurring during a comparatively long interval of time
lasting a comparatively long timea slow journey
characterized by lack of speeda slow walker
(prenominal) adapted to or productive of slow movementthe slow lane of a motorway
(of a clock, etc) indicating a time earlier than the correct time
given to or characterized by a leisurely or lazy existencea slow town
not readily responsive to stimulation; intellectually unreceptivea slow mind
dull or uninterestingthe play was very slow
not easily arouseda slow temperament
lacking promptness or immediacya slow answer
unwilling to perform an action or enter into a stateslow to anger
behind the times
(of trade, etc) unproductive; slack
(of a fire) burning weakly
(of an oven) cool
photog requiring a relatively long time of exposure to produce a given densitya slow lens
sport (of a track, etc) tending to reduce the speed of the ball or the competitors
cricket (of a bowler, etc) delivering the ball slowly, usually with spin


in a manner characterized by lack of speed; slowly


(often foll by up or down) to decrease or cause to decrease in speed, efficiency, etc
Derived Formsslowly, adverbslowness, noun

Word Origin for slow

Old English slāw sluggish; related to Old High German slēo dull, Old Norse slǣr, Dutch sleeuw slow
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 slowest



Old English slaw "inactive, sluggish, torpid, lazy," also "not clever," from Proto-Germanic *slæwaz (cf. Old Saxon sleu "blunt, dull," Middle Dutch slee, Dutch sleeuw "sour, tart, blunt," Old High German sleo "blunt, dull," Old Norse sljor, Danish sløv, Swedish slö "blunt, dull"). Meaning "taking a long time" is attested from early 13c. Meaning "dull, tedious" is from 1841. As an adverb c.1500. The slows "imaginary disease to account for lethargy" is from 1843.



1550s, "make slower;" 1590s, "go slower," from slow (adj.). Related: Slowed; slowing. Old English had slawian (intransitive) "to be or become slow, be sluggish," but the modern use appears to be a 16c. re-formation.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with slowest


In addition to the idioms beginning with slow

  • slow burn
  • slow but sure
  • slow down
  • slow on the uptake
  • slow up

also see:

  • mills of the gods grind slowly
  • on the uptake, slow
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.