slow-walk

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English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Presumably from a horse being made to slow walk.

Attested since 1973 in Southern dialects of American English; prominent since the late 1990s. Thought by William Safire to derive from a Tennessee term for the walking gait of the Tennessee Walking Horse, which is generally called "flat walk", but sometimes a "slow walk".[1][2]

Alternative forms[edit]

Verb[edit]

slow-walk (third-person singular simple present slow-walks, present participle slow-walking, simple past and past participle slow-walked)

  1. (idiomatic, transitive, chiefly politics) To delay a request or command, to drag one's feet, to stall, to obstruct, to drag out a process.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Frequently used in the passive (“be slow-walked”).
  • Similar in meaning to drag one's feet, but the object of slow-walk is either the person whose request is being delayed or the subject being delayed. Also, while drag one's feet has nuance of reluctance, particularly in the face of an unpleasant task (“I’ve been dragging my feet on doing my taxes”), slow-walk emphasizes an adversarial relationship and intentional delaying tactics: “We’re being slow-walked on our proposal – they’re hoping that if they drag it out we’ll give up.”

Synonyms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Attested since 1962 in Southern (North and South Carolina) dialects of American English; of Unknown origin.[1]

Verb[edit]

slow-walk (third-person singular simple present slow-walks, present participle slow-walking, simple past and past participle slow-walked)

  1. (transitive) To punish, to chastise.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Much less common than the “delay” sense.

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 On Language: “The Slow-Walk Issue”, William Safire, The New York Times Magazine, January 18, 1998
  2. ^ Care and Training of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Joe Webb, 1967, “Whether you are successful or unsuccessful in getting the horse into a running walk, go back into the slow walk occasionally.”