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From Middle English slipperie, an extended form ( +‎ -y) of Middle English slipper, sliper (slippery), from Old English slipor (slippery), from Proto-Germanic *slipraz (smooth, slippery), equivalent to slip +‎ -er. Compare also Middle English slibbri, slubbri (slippery) borrowed from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German slibberich (slippery). Cognate with German schlüpfrig (slippery), Danish slibrig (slippery), Swedish slipprig (slippery).


  • IPA(key): /ˈslɪpəɹi/, /ˈslɪpɹi/
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slippery (comparative slipperier, superlative slipperiest)

  1. Of a surface, having low friction, often due to being covered in a non-viscous liquid, and therefore hard to grip, hard to stand on without falling, etc.
    Oily substances render things slippery.
  2. (figuratively, by extension) Evasive; difficult to pin down.
    a slippery person
    a slippery promise
  3. (obsolete) Liable to slip; not standing firm.
    • 1602, William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, III. iii. 84:
      Which when they fall, as being slippery standers, / The love that leaned on them, as slippery too, / Do one pluck down another, and together / Die in the fall.
  4. Unstable; changeable; inconstant.
    • 1668, Sir John Denham
      He looking down
      With scorn or pity on the slippery state
      Of kings, will tread upon the neck of fate.
  5. (obsolete) Wanton; unchaste; loose in morals.



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