Exceptional Expressions For Everyday Events
Like its opposite, fast, slow is most often used as an adjective to describe an aspect of speed, in this case, low speed. A sore muscle caused the jogger to run at a slow pace. The day was warm and sunny, so the couple took a slow stroll through the park. The slow traffic was the result of an accident on the highway. A public bus is usually a slower mode of transportation than a car. The word slow often appears in combinations such as “a slow-moving train” or “slowpoke” (a person who moves slowly).
The verb slow means to decelerate or to reduce progress. The heavy snow slowed the hikers’ climb up the mountain. The broken computer slowed the student’s progress on her report. As an adverb, slow means in a slow manner and usually takes the form slowly. A leopard might creep slowly toward its prey. A grandmother might wake slowly from her nap.
- In many games, being fast or finishing first is how players win. What are some games where the last person to reach the end wins?
- Being a fast reader is a great skill, but when would reading slowly be more appropriate?
- When we are eager for something to happen, like recess or summer break, we want time to fly. When might someone want time to move slowly?
- What does it mean for a clock to be slow?
The Spanish Connection
Slow comes from an Old English word, slaw, meaning “slow-witted, sluggish,” and deriving from an Old High German word for “blunt, or dull.” Over time, slow developed to also mean “to move at a low speed.” The Spanish word for slow (moving at a low speed) is lento.
- The original meaning for slow, having to do with intelligence or ability to learn, is still common today. Often it is used as an indirect or less harsh way to refer to a person, instead of calling him dim, unperceptive, or even stupid. However, referring to someone as slow is very often considered an insult.
- Some idioms and common phrases retain that aspect of mental dullness. For instance, someone who is “slow on the draw” or “slow on the uptake” would be someone who catches on later than others, perhaps the last person to understand the punchline of a joke.