from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A depression or hollow, usually filled with deep mud or mire.
  • noun A stagnant swamp, marsh, bog, or pond, especially as part of a bayou, inlet, or backwater.
  • noun A state of deep despair or moral degradation.
  • noun The dead outer skin shed by a reptile or amphibian.
  • noun Medicine A layer or mass of dead tissue separated from surrounding living tissue, as in a wound, sore, or inflammation.
  • noun An outer layer or covering that is shed or removed.
  • intransitive verb To be cast off or shed; come off.
  • intransitive verb To shed a slough.
  • intransitive verb Medicine To separate from surrounding living tissue. Used of dead tissue.
  • intransitive verb To cast off or shed (skin or a covering).
  • intransitive verb To discard or disregard as undesirable or unfavorable.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • A Middle English variant of slow.
  • To come off as a slough: often with off.
  • To cast off a slough.
  • To cast off as a slough; in pathology, to throw off, as a dead mass from an ulcer or a wound.
  • noun A hole full of deep mud or mire; a quagmire of considerable depth and comparatively small extent of surface.
  • noun (slö), A marshy hollow; a reedy pond; also, a long shallow ravine, or open creek, which becomes partly or wholly dry in summer.
  • noun Synonyms Swamp, etc. See marsh.
  • noun The skin of a serpent, usually the cast skin; also, any part of an animal that is naturally shed or molted; a cast; an exuvium.
  • noun In pathology, a dead part of tissue which separates from the surrounding living tissue, and is cast off in the act of sloughing.
  • noun A husk.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • imp. of slee, to slay. Slew.
  • noun The skin, commonly the cast-off skin, of a serpent or of some similar animal.
  • noun (Med.) The dead mass separating from a foul sore; the dead part which separates from the living tissue in mortification.
  • intransitive verb (Med.) To form a slough; to separate in the form of dead matter from the living tissues; -- often used with off, or away
  • transitive verb To cast off; to discard as refuse.
  • noun A place of deep mud or mire; a hole full of mire.
  • noun A wet place; a swale; a side channel or inlet from a river.
  • noun (Bot.) a name in the Mississippi valley for grasses of the genus Muhlenbergia; -- called also drop seed, and nimble Will.
  • adjective obsolete Slow.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The skin shed by a snake or other reptile.
  • noun Dead skin on a sore or ulcer.
  • verb transitive To shed (skin).
  • verb transitive, card games To discard.
  • noun UK A muddy or marshy area.
  • noun A type of swamp or shallow lake system, typically formed as or by the backwater of a larger waterway, similar to a bayou with trees.
  • noun Western United States A secondary channel of a river delta, usually flushed by the tide.
  • noun A state of depression.
  • noun Canadian Prairies A small pond, often alkaine, many but not all are formed by glacial potholes.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a stagnant swamp (especially as part of a bayou)
  • noun any outer covering that can be shed or cast off (such as the cast-off skin of a snake)
  • noun a hollow filled with mud
  • verb cast off hair, skin, horn, or feathers
  • noun necrotic tissue; a mortified or gangrenous part or mass


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English slōh.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English slughe; akin to Middle High German slūch, sluoch , sloughed off snake skin (Modern German Schlauch, hose, tire tube).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, akin to Middle High German slûch ("slough") (whence German Schlauch ("tube, hose")).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English slōh, probably from Proto-Germanic *slōhaz.


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  • "slew" (a marshy body of water isolated in its original channel) and, phonetically, "sluff." Apparently the words have different roots--spelled the same funny way, but otherwise unrelated. There are other definitions of the word that are pronounced "slou," having meanings literally or metaphorically similar to "slew."

    July 17, 2007

  • Shed (off); estuary,marsh.

    November 22, 2007

  • Citation on foden.

    June 29, 2008

  • In card games such as hearts, can be used as a verb for passing undesirable cards unto your opponents

    Also a polo term: "The action taken by a defender when he moves away from his opponent to help defend in another area"

    January 27, 2009

  • There was an old lady from Slough

    Who developed a terrible cough.

    She drank half a pint

    Of warm honey and mint,

    But, sadly, she didn't pull through.

    (courtesy of the Futility Closet)

    July 6, 2009

  • I love sight rhymes! They're like aural–optical illusions. (See the discussion on eye rhyme.)

    July 6, 2009

  • I aways heard slough as ending in f like stuff, when a snake sheds his skin.

    When talking swamp-like pronounced slue.

    October 26, 2012

  • A cartoon comment on slough.

    April 9, 2014