Definition of slippery in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈslɪp(ə)ri/

adjective (slipperier, slipperiest)

1(Of a surface or object) difficult to hold firmly or stand on because it is smooth, wet, or slimy: slippery ice her hand was slippery with sweat
More example sentences
  • Loss of balance on a slippery surface, especially ice or snow, is also common.
  • But it was still difficult for the cars to stop on slippery surfaces when something unexpected occurred.
  • On slippery surfaces, a very smooth traction and skid control system will cut in to ensure that things never get out of hand.
slithery, greasy, oily, icy, glassy, smooth, slick;
slimy, wet
informal slippy, skiddy
rare lubricious
1.1(Of a person) evasive and unpredictable; not to be relied on: Martin’s a slippery customer
More example sentences
  • A policeman has told how he bravely apprehended a slippery customer.
  • Jolly and devious, she is an appealingly slippery figure.
  • Have I been taken in, or is she just a slippery customer?
evasive, unreliable, unpredictable, hard to pin down;
North American  snide
informal shady, shifty, foxy, iffy
British informal dodgy
Australian/New Zealand informal shonky
1.2(Of a word or concept) elusive in meaning because changing according to one’s point of view: the word ‘intended’ is a decidedly slippery one
More example sentences
  • I firmly believe the answer is no, if one wants to retain any meaningful working definition of the slippery concept of consciousness.
  • Clarifying this slippery concept, however, suggests that the most important changes pointed to by postmodernism are political.
  • I was not concerned with the noise, or the ‘nuisance’ - a very slippery concept - but with safety.


slippery slope

A course of action likely to lead to something bad or disastrous: he is on the slippery slope towards a life of crime
More example sentences
  • This leads them down a slippery slope until, at the end of the play, they ‘tear each other's throats out’.
  • Not me, evidently: and so my first step was taken on that slippery slope leading down to a kind of gentle madness.
  • Critics say the law would be a slippery slope leading to anti-abortion laws in Canada.



Example sentences
  • An even bigger mistake is the dialogue, which slipperily shuttles between the farcical and the portentous, inducing gales of laughter in the most inappropriate places.
  • Cameron was surprised to be invited to join the Bullingdon, and slipperily avoided most of the most disgraceful antics.
  • Your machine will move slowly and slipperily to a fate that you can't avoid.


Late 15th century: from dialect slipper 'slippery', probably suggested by Luther's schlipfferig.

Words that rhyme with slippery

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