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Unclear[1]. Perhaps from Middle English slugge, from Old Norse slókr (lazy fellow)[2]. See also Swedish sloka (to slouch, wilt)[3], related to Swedish slak (slack, soft and flexible) and Latin laxus (loose, slack)[4].


  • IPA(key): /slaʊt͡ʃ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aʊtʃ


slouch (plural slouches)

  1. A hanging down of the head; a drooping posture; a limp appearance
    He sat with an unenthusiastic slouch.
  2. Any depression or hanging down, as of a hat brim.
    The plant hung in a permanent slouch.
  3. Someone who is slow to act.
    • 16 September 2014, Ian Jack, “Is this the end of Britishness”, in The Guardian[1]:
      In any case, Scotland has been no slouch at national invention. The Greek temple to commemorate James Thomson wasn’t the only monument raised by the 11th Earl of Buchan, who was a friend and neighbour of Walter Scott, and as great a romancer in his obsession with ruins, battlements and fancy dress.
  4. (dated) An awkward, heavy, clownish fellow.

Usage notes[edit]

In the sense of "someone who is slow to act", sometimes used in the negative as a statement of praise. Being "no slouch" at something is generally understood to mean that the subject is respectably good in the field described.

Derived terms[edit]



slouch (third-person singular simple present slouches, present participle slouching, simple past and past participle slouched)

  1. (intransitive) To hang or droop; to adopt a limp posture
    Do not slouch when playing a flute.
  2. (intransitive) To walk in a clumsy, lazy manner.
    I slouched to the fridge to see if there was anything to eat.
  3. (transitive) To cause to hang down or droop; to depress.
    • 1896, Duncan Campbell Scott, In the Village of Viger, page 107:
      [] then he slouched his head down on the table and pretended to sleep.
    • 2012, Kim Vogel Sawyer, When Hope Blossoms, page 281:
      Disappointment slouched him into the pew.



  1. ^ slouch”, in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1996–present.
  2. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “slouch”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  3. ^ sloka in Svenska Akademiens ordbok (SAOB)
  4. ^ slak in Svenska Akademiens ordbok (SAOB)