Definitions

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

  • noun A mixture of coal fragments, coal dust, and dirt that remains after screening coal.
  • noun A small dell or hollow.
  • noun A bog; a morass.
  • adjective Not tense or taut; loose: synonym: loose.
  • adjective Lacking in activity; not busy.
  • adjective Moving slowly; sluggish.
  • adjective Lacking in diligence or due care or concern; negligent: synonym: negligent.
  • adjective Flowing or blowing with little speed.
  • adjective Linguistics Pronounced with the muscles of the tongue and jaw relatively relaxed; lax.
  • intransitive verb To make looser or less taut.
  • intransitive verb To make slower.
  • intransitive verb To be careless or remiss in doing.
  • intransitive verb To slake (lime).
  • intransitive verb To be or become slack.
  • intransitive verb To be inactive or avoid work.
  • noun A loose part, as of a rope or sail.
  • noun A period of little activity; a lull.
  • noun A cessation of movement in a current of air or water.
  • noun An area of still water.
  • noun Unused capacity.
  • noun Casual pants that are not part of a suit.
  • adverb In a slack manner.
  • idiom Slang (cut/give) To make an allowance for (someone), as in allowing more time to finish something.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Slow in movement; tardy.
  • Slow in flow; sluggish or at rest: as, slack water: specifically noting the tide, or the time when the tide is at rest—that is, between the flux and reflux.
  • Slow in action; lacking in promptness or diligence; negligent; remiss.
  • Not tight; not tense or taut; relaxed; loose: as, a slack rope; slack rigging; a slack rein; figuratively, languid; limp; feeble; weak.
  • Not compacted or firm; loose.
  • Lacking in briskness or activity; dull: said especially of business.
  • In hydraulic engineering, a pool or pond behind a dam serving for needs of navigation. Such ponds are used with a series of dams and locks, to render small streams navigable.
  • Synonyms Careless, dilatory, tardy, inactive.
  • noun The part of a rope or the like that hangs loose, having no stress upon it; also, looseness, as of the parts of a machine.
  • noun A remission; an interval of rest, inactivity, or dullness, as in trade or work; a slack period.
  • noun A slack-water haul of the net: as, two or three slacks are taken daily.
  • noun A long pool in a streamy river.
  • To become slack or slow; slacken; become slower: as, a current of water slacks.
  • To become less tense, firm, or rigid; decrease in tension.
  • To abate; become less violent.
  • To become languid; languish; fail; flag.
  • To make slack or slow; retard.
  • To make slack or less tense; loosen; relax: as, to slack a rope or a bandage.
  • To relax; let go the hold of; lose or let slip.
  • To make less intense, violent, severe, rapid, etc.; abate; moderate; diminish; hence, to mitigate; relieve.
  • To be remiss in or neglectful of; neglect.
  • To make remiss or neglectful.

Etymologies

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

[Middle English sleck.]

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

[Middle English slak, from Old Norse slakki.]

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

[Middle English slak, from Old English slæc; see slēg- in Indo-European roots.]

Examples

  • His eyes were dark and blank, his expression slack.

    Heaven Lake

  • His eyes were dark and blank, his expression slack.

    Heaven Lake

  • His eyes were dark and blank, his expression slack.

    Heaven Lake

  • His eyes were dark and blank, his expression slack.

    Heaven Lake

  • His eyes were dark and blank, his expression slack.

    Heaven Lake

  • His eyes were dark and blank, his expression slack.

    Heaven Lake

  • The forenoon being what he called his slack time he found the earlier part of it most profitably used for sleep.

    The Dust Flower

  • About ten minutes or so, those tugs, five tugs in all, were pulling with all their might to try and get this old gray lady off of Pier 86 and finally, as we stood on the flight deck, there was movement, very slow at first, and then she just took off and she was traveling faster than I think they expected and we ended up just sitting off of the Bayone wet dock for about three hours waiting for what they call slack to decrease or lower tide to come in so the ship could be controlled better and brought right into this dock that we are obviously just now moving into.

    CNN Transcript Dec 5, 2006

  • The argument that continued monetary slack is necessary to add millions more jobs scares those of us who are skeptical about the wisdom of Keynesian micromanagement in general.

    Interest Rate Debate, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • Casting up, and not too far out, stripping in slack as the line moves back towards you will bet you the deepest.

    Split shot

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