1382, "to cut with a stroke of a blade or whip," perhaps from M.Fr. esclachier
"to break," variant of esclater
"to break, splinter" (see slat
). In ref. to prices, it is attested from 1906. The noun meaning "a cutting stroke with a weapon" is recorded from 1576; sense of "slit in a garment" is from 1615; that of "open tract in a forest" is first attested 1825, Amer.Eng. As a punctuation mark in writing or printing, it is recorded from 1961. Slash-and-burn
method of clearing forest for cultivation is from 1919.