Definition of slither in English:



  • 1 Move smoothly over a surface with a twisting or oscillating motion.

    ‘I spied a baby adder slithering away’
    • ‘A variety of snakes twisted and slithered across his shoulders down to his fingertips as if they had a life of their own.’
    • ‘The ship seems to slither and move as if it's alive.’
    • ‘If you don't move fast, the snake will slither away.’
    • ‘Then, above our heads soared three eagles, and not long after, an adder slithered calmly between our feet.’
    • ‘As Satan taunts Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, a snake slithers out from beneath the underbrush.’
    • ‘Most of the inhabitants could afford to buy extra water rations and keep plants, which they proudly displayed sprawling out of the windows and slithering up the pale, smooth walls of their homes.’
    • ‘Gliding smoothly under it, he slithered his fingers in between the wave in a cutting motion.’
    • ‘Ben dipped under the surface, slithering like a snake after the boys.’
    • ‘I look down and see a long snake slithering past us.’
    • ‘What Moon has found is that a snake slithers by bending its body into a series of S-shaped curves produced by alternating waves of muscle contraction that start at the reptile's head and move back toward its tail.’
    • ‘Creatures that slither, writhe or scuttle currently form the star attraction for visitors of all ages to the town.’
    • ‘A week or so later, the snake slithers back into the wild - broadcasting a signal to researchers about where and how it lives.’
    • ‘There were rats and snakes crawling and slithering all over her helpless body.’
    • ‘Grace and Willies peered into an aquarium, and to Willie's delight and Grace's horror, saw dozens of squirmy striped creatures slithering over each other.’
    • ‘It felt like an oily snake slithering around in my head.’
    • ‘What looks like oil slicks slither across the surface, multiple colors twisting over each other.’
    • ‘The road twists vertiginously around sharp drop-offs, and nighttime is when poisonous fer-de-lance snakes slither across the road.’
    • ‘Artistic images of snakelike forms capture the scaly, slithering, writhing shapes of snakes as they move over the ground or swim in water.’
    • ‘‘It's a place of peace for me,’ Carlos says as a black snake slithers by.’
    • ‘In a moment, the forest was quiet again, and the flying and creeping things slithered and crawled to view the carnage.’
    1. 1.1Slide or slip unsteadily on a loose or slippery surface.
      ‘we slithered down a snowy mountain track’
      • ‘Now we have a better idea where we need to make improvements, as the car was not pleasant to drive in the second half of the race, sliding and slithering on what felt like melted rubber - it gave me no chance to push as I would have liked.’
      • ‘Her biggest problem was staying upright as she slipped and slithered on the dry grass.’
      • ‘I crouched down without making a sound and started slithering like a snake through the bushy tomato plants that Mr. Russo had tied up on stakes.’
      • ‘He stood up painfully and slithered across the slimy floor, slipping on the fish that had scattered from the broken boxes.’
      • ‘So traumatized by what he saw in China, and so ashamed of being a human, the man returns to his village thinking he is a snake, slithering on the ground, hissing at former friends and family.’
      • ‘Just up the hill beyond, up which our wheels slithered and slid, we left the van at the roadside and unloaded the god-goodies we'd picked up in the small town on the way.’
      • ‘The performers had to make their way across the net by getting in and out of the clothes, perching and hanging, twisting and slithering their way through the canopy like primates.’
      • ‘Then he slithered back down and made a lot of motions with his hands which Sanchen didn't understand.’
      • ‘I flex my legs and jump for the door, clinging to the grooves and gaps in the ceiling and twist the knob, jamming it open and slithering through.’
      • ‘Three teams will crawl and wriggle and slither to stalk and triangulate on a small guarded bridge.’
      • ‘He rolled his eyes at her when she quickly moved her leg, and slithered to the other side of the bed, keeping the distance between him.’
      • ‘We watched spellbound as they rolled around in the deep mud, then slithered and slid up the muddy bank before playfully pushing each other back down the slope.’
      • ‘They slipped and slithered over the ice in a vain search for food.’
      • ‘Envelopes are rapidly slithering and sliding across the floor and plastic bags can be seen floating upwards as if they were balloons.’
      • ‘Be assured that I will continue my apparent never ending cycle, struggling to push my rock up the mountain only to watch it slither and slide down after nearing the peak.’
      • ‘However, handling errors among the backs saw a couple of early and valiant moves end in loss of possession, as the ball slithered and slipped through fingers.’
      • ‘Motorists in south Essex slipped and slithered to work today as the first snow of winter caused chaos on the roads.’
      • ‘Yesterday, one bull was separated from the rest of the group when it slithered on a slippery street after recent rain.’
      • ‘Drivers slipped and slithered to work and children were told to stay away from school as heavy snow fell across Greater Manchester and the north west today.’
      • ‘Unpleasant weather conditions prevailed and the players slithering on the greasy surface was a common occurrence.’
      slide, slip, glide, glissade
      squirm, wriggle, snake, worm, slink, creep, crawl
      View synonyms


  • 1[in singular] A slithering movement.

    ‘a snake-like slither across the grass’
    • ‘The way on from here was a slither down an inconspicuous and rather grotty looking muddy hole.’
    • ‘It's only a matter of time until they begin researching once the first whispers about Santa's non-existence slither through the school.’
    • ‘The sheen of satin, the slither of the bias cut and the jewel-like colours so loved by Tamara were perfect for the Christmas fashion issue, in a season which had embraced a more conventional glamour.’
    • ‘Viro heard a slither, and a hiss, and looked above; from the rafters, a furred snake hung, its tail coiled upon a rotten wooded sign, the whitish paint flecked and gone.’
    • ‘From there, it was a slow slither up the rocky path of opportunity.’
    • ‘The trip begins quite innocuously as a slippery slither along muddy calcite - awkward, but nothing to write home about.’
    • ‘A tightish slither down at the far end of Four Ways Chamber would have bought you to the same place.’
    • ‘She had mastered the texture not only of skin but of fabrics, from the slither of silks to the deep tousle of thick wool and towelling and the stiff give of fine leather gloves.’
    • ‘A short slither down enters an attractive little chamber, known as Flowstone Chamber.’
    • ‘He dapples the piece with shadow, signs his name in a loose-wristed slither and slides the book forward.’
    • ‘From somewhere behind me, I heard a slight plop, a slither and then a sudden weight on my bed.’
    • ‘It was all silent until Jake, the last person walking, heard a slither.’
    • ‘To the right at the junction, is a slither down to a pool of water.’
    • ‘Each rock was chosen and placed very precisely so that the pace of the water would change from a slither to a surge at various points along the waterfall's course.’
    • ‘The crawl soon gives way to a small collapse chamber where a slither through a narrow slot leads to cave of slightly more civilised proportions.’
  • 2British informal A sliver.

    ‘a slither of bacon’
    • ‘The challenge now is the marathon of a 14-mile nonstop stretch of waves and holes that slithers through the curvilinear canyon like a snake on crack.’
    • ‘Myri slowly pushed the right-hand door open, allowing a slither of light to pierce the gloomy room.’
    • ‘I knew some pros only came for one of the days so I still had a slither of hope.’
    • ‘It was pitch black inside the dumpster with only a slither of light entering through the crack of the lid.’
    • ‘A slither of light shone across the dark hall.’
    • ‘They had the same bone structure in their faces, shown clearly as only foundation and a slither of lipstick had been applied.’
    • ‘Cured bresaola with goats' cheese and walnuts and the tagliete gratinate, with its grilled slithers of courgette and tomato, are rustic Italian cooking at its best.’
    • ‘But no titbits of food - well, maybe just a couple of slithers of sliced chicken.’
    • ‘The mainland has diminished to a thin line of green and purple trees, and, closer by, neighbouring islands are underscored by slithers of sand and backed by dense jungle.’
    • ‘The band surfs along a wave of echoed percussion and slithers of organ whilst Bergsman croons.’
    • ‘Or the slithers of beef sirloin marinated in chilli and lime, stir-fried with vegetables and noodles.’
    • ‘Adverse possession isn't only about slithers of land centimetres wide, occasionally it can be about bigger parcels of land.’
    • ‘Nick's meal came served in a huge bowl: a wonderful-looking salad, full of green leaves, pepper slithers and chunks of tomato crowned with a big hunk of chicken.’
    • ‘Glutton that I am, though, I was disappointed to find just four small slithers of meat atop a sculpted mountain of the red stuff.’
    • ‘She found it open, revealing a slither of light.’
    • ‘I walked down the dark hallway, only lit by slithers of light from cracks between the stones of the wall.’
    • ‘The financial firm belongs to a class of companies that promises, for its shareholders, a big dollop of jam tomorrow but only a slither of dry toast today.’
    • ‘A vivid green pile of leaves, beans and peas was crowned with slithers of smoked duck as well as pate foie gras encased in shells of duck meat.’
    • ‘Dill pickles, a bit of cos lettuce, slithers of Parmesan - that's all you need.’
    • ‘The majority of bases are crowded with barely a slither of light between the bodies inhabiting them.’
    splinter, shard, shiver, chip, flake, shred, scrap, slither, shaving, paring
    View synonyms


Middle English: alteration of the dialect verb slidder, frequentative from the base of slide.