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[slith -er] /ˈslɪð ər/
verb (used without object)
to slide down or along a surface, especially unsteadily, from side to side, or with some friction or noise:
The box slithered down the chute.
to go or walk with a sliding motion:
The snake slithered across the path.
verb (used with object)
to cause to slither or slide.
a slithering movement; slide.
Origin of slither
1150-1200; Middle English slitheren, variant of sliddren, Old English slid(e)rian, frequentative of slīdan to slide; see -er6
Related forms
slithery, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for slithering
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The slithering, rustling noise became louder on their trail.

  • Now, what will that chap be doing there, slithering about over the water?

    The Ocean Cat's Paw George Manville Fenn
  • It was raining outside and now and then a dripping camion passed along the road, slithering through the mud.

    One Man's Initiation--1917 John Dos Passos
  • He heard the slithering sound of Lorenzo's sword being drawn.

  • It was almost better than slithering along a hard road with a motor-car stripped to the running-gear.

    The Range Dwellers B. M. Bower
  • I pushed on through the clinging, maddening gumbo, slithering and sliding.

    Tramping on Life Harry Kemp
  • He halted before me performing his new uncomfortable trick of slithering thumb over finger tips.

    Jaffery William J. Locke
British Dictionary definitions for slithering


to move or slide or cause to move or slide unsteadily, as on a slippery surface
(intransitive) to travel with a sliding motion
a slithering motion
Word Origin
Old English slidrian, from slīdan to slide
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 slithering



early 15c., variant of Middle English slidder "to slip, slide," from Old English slidrian "to slip, slide on a loose slope," a frequentative form of slidan "to slide" (see slide (v.)). For spelling change, cf. gather. Meaning "to walk in a sliding manner" is attested from 1848. In reference to reptile motion, attested from 1839. Related: Slithered; slithering.


"slithering movement," 1861, from slither (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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