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From Middle English slitheren, alteration of slideren (to slither, creep), from Old English slidrian (to slip, slide, slither), from Proto-West Germanic *slidrōn (to slide, slither), from Proto-Indo-European *sleydʰ- (to slip), equivalent to slide +‎ -er (frequentative suffix). Cognate with Dutch slidderen (to slip, wriggle, slither), German schlittern (to slither, skid). More at slide.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈslɪð.ə(ɹ)/
  • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈslɪð.ɚ/
  • Rhymes: -ɪðə(ɹ)


slither (third-person singular simple present slithers, present participle slithering, simple past and past participle slithered)

  1. (intransitive) To move about smoothly and from side to side.
  2. (intransitive) To slide
    • 2003, J. Flash, An American Savage:
      I bent down and with both hands I scooped up as much of this pissshit as I could. The green and brown clump felt like Jello as it dripped down all over my clothes. It was slithering through inbetween[sic] my fingers.

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  1. (archaic) slithery; slippery


slither (uncountable)

  1. A limestone rubble.
  2. (nonstandard, see usage notes) A sliver.

Usage notes[edit]

The use of slither to mean sliver, which is prevalent especially in Britain (where th-fronting is becoming more and more prevalent), is considered by many to be an error, though at least one major dictionary merely labels it "informal" [1].

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