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[sley] /sleɪ/
verb (used with object), slew, slain, slaying.
to kill by violence.
to destroy; extinguish.
Informal. to impress strongly; overwhelm, especially by humor:
Your jokes slay me.
Obsolete. to strike.
verb (used without object), slew, slain, slaying.
to kill or murder.
Origin of slay
before 900; Middle English sleen, slayn, Old English slēan; cognate with Dutch slaan, German schlagen, Old Norse slā, Gothic slahan to strike, beat
Related forms
slayable, adjective
slayer, noun
unslayable, adjective
1. murder, slaughter, massacre, butcher, assassinate. 2. annihilate, ruin. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for slayer
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The Governor had promised, so it was alleged, that the slayer of Whistling Duck should be punished.

    Toronto of Old Henry Scadding
  • He was my father, Sire, and I saw him slain—aye, and slew the slayer.

    Fair Margaret H. Rider Haggard
  • "And an hour ago I buried the body of her slayer," said Rollo, calmly.

    The Firebrand S. R. Crockett
  • He was, in fact, a slayer of beasts—a foreman at the slaughter-house.

    The Slave Of The Lamp Henry Seton Merriman
  • For the slayer by a cruel death of their captive father, Ragnar's sons act the blood-eagle on Ella, and salt his flesh.

    The Danish History, Books I-IX Saxo Grammaticus ("Saxo the Learned")
  • By his dress he knew that he was his pursuer and Spurling's slayer.

    Murder Point Coningsby Dawson
  • "Invoke us a curse, O Bintang Burung, on the slayer," he asked.

    The Argus Pheasant John Charles Beecham
  • The blood could not possibly have been the victim's, therefore it must have been the slayer's.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
British Dictionary definitions for slayer


verb (transitive) slays, slaying, slew, slain
(archaic or literary) to kill, esp violently
(slang) to impress (someone) sexually
(obsolete) to strike
Derived Forms
slayer, noun
Word Origin
Old English slēan; related to Old Norse slā, Gothic, Old High German slahan to strike, Old Irish slacaim I beat
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for slayer

late 14c., agent noun from slay (v.). The Old English agent noun was slaga "slayer, killer."



Old English slean "to smite, strike, beat," also "to kill with a weapon, slaughter" (class VI strong verb; past tense sloh, slog, past participle slagen), from Proto-Germanic *slahan, from root *slog- "to hit" (cf. Old Norse and Old Frisian sla, Danish slaa, Middle Dutch slaen, Dutch slaan, Old High German slahan, German schlagen, Gothic slahan "to strike"). The Germanic words are from PIE root *slak- "to strike" (cf. Middle Irish past participle slactha "struck," slacc "sword").

Modern German cognate schlagen maintains the original sense of "to strike." Meaning "overwhelm with delight" (mid-14c.) preserves one of the wide range of meanings the word once had, including, in Old English, "stamp (coins); forge (weapons); throw, cast; pitch (a tent), to sting (of a snake); to dash, rush, come quickly; play (the harp); gain by conquest."


"instrument on a weaver's loom to beat up the weft," Old English slæ, slea, slahae, from root meaning "strike" (see slay (v.)), so called from "striking" the web together. Hence the surname Slaymaker "maker of slays."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for slayer

slave away

verb phrase

To work very hard at something: slaving away at Thanksgiving dinner

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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