Definition of sloth in English:



  • 1[mass noun] Reluctance to work or make an effort; laziness:

    ‘he should overcome his natural sloth and complacency’
    • ‘I wouldn't like to use the term gradual laziness to describe the deterioration my work ethic - not when words like indolence, sloth and bone-idleness will do so much better.’
    • ‘Their suspicions focussed particularly on what Cornwallis and his kind characterized as sloth and desertion.’
    • ‘The wandering soul has countless names, many of them suggestive of sloth and indolence.’
    • ‘The original ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ are commonly regarded as greed, gluttony, envy, sloth, pride, lust and wrath. search news’
    • ‘It seems to be intrinsic to domestic politics of every variety that a certain dismal downward trend emerges, characterized by sloth, despondency and complacency.’
    • ‘However, I was by now committed to a day of gluttony and sloth, and so spent the afternoon eating chocolate and watching ‘reality’ tv.’
    • ‘Call it lethargy, call it ennui, call it plain, honest to goodness sloth, but I had yet to stir my bones and make the trek north.’
    • ‘Once again the drawbacks to living a life of laziness and sloth became apparent.’
    • ‘My main moral failings have always centered on greed and sloth.’
    • ‘When does the diagnosis become lethargy or sloth?’
    • ‘I firmly believe that sloth and indolence are much kinder to the environment than greed and ambition.’
    • ‘Night after night Shaun drags her to the neighbourhood pub, the Winchester, to suck back pints with his best friend Ed, the poster boy for sloth and neglect.’
    • ‘In the triumph of Royalist counter-revolution Milton saw the dangers of political passivity, of ideological sloth.’
    • ‘It's ridiculous that I've got one of the largest cultural cities in the world to the south of me, lots of which it costs relatively little to see and I let sloth and lethargy stop me from seeing it.’
    • ‘The law was against loitering, though it may as well have been against idleness and sloth.’
    • ‘But can't we have a little listlessness in our lives, some sloth, a dollop or two of drowsiness?’
    • ‘Reverend Andy said he wasn't surprised that my zeal of the previous week had been replaced by sloth and apathy.’
    • ‘‘It's about idleness and sloth, and not getting out there and bringing in fresh, exciting stories,’ he says.’
    • ‘The long, hot dusty afternoons, where time hangs still, and dry leaves fly in sad whirls before collapsing to the ground, the inertia and sloth that drives even the most energetic into a huddle, the sense of despair.’
    • ‘Their lack of mathematical acumen is taken by parents and teachers as evidence of laziness, of sloth.’
    laziness, idleness, indolence, slothfulness, inactivity, inertia, sluggishness, apathy, accidie, listlessness, lassitude, passivity, lethargy, languor, torpidity, slowness, heaviness, dullness, shiftlessness
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  • 2A slow-moving tropical American mammal that hangs upside down from the branches of trees using its long limbs and hooked claws.

    See also ground sloth
    • ‘The woolly rhinos and cave bears of Europe and Asia, the saber-toothed cats, the mastodons and giant sloths of North and South America - could some of these have made it through too?’
    • ‘Saber-toothed cats, mastodons, giant sloths, woolly rhinos, and many other big, shaggy mammals are widely thought to have died out around the end of the last ice age, some 10,500 years ago.’
    • ‘Three-toed sloths weigh 3-5 kg; their bodies run around 0.5 m in length.’
    • ‘Peccaries, tapirs, anteaters, armadillos, sloths, coatis, and others are around but hard to see.’
    • ‘In South America, a group known as the Xenarthrans developed, today represented by the anteaters, sloths and armadillos.’
    • ‘The group currently includes armadillos, 2-toed sloths, 3-toed sloths, and anteaters, placed in four families containing 29 species.’
    • ‘You can walk through a tropical jungle and admire parrots, poison tree frogs and sloths in the trees and piranhas in the water beneath, or watch beluga whales and sea otters through the windows of large tanks in the Canadian Arctic display.’
    • ‘But the journey, which leads to the discovery of shards of ancient pottery and the bones of extinct sloths, makes for a story of great suspense.’
    • ‘He doesn't like to hang on trees with the other sloths.’
    • ‘Two toed sloths are perhaps more heterothermic than any other mammal.’
    • ‘The cerebellum is nearly the same fraction of the brain in sloths and cats, sheep, manatees and antelopes but many fold bigger in some elasmobranch species than in others.’
    • ‘But on the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola - shared today by modern-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic - sloths survived until about 4,400 years ago.’
    • ‘This night, the turtle was laying her eggs on a low shelf of sand near a line of dune scrub and low palms, not far from dense jungle that is home to the deadly fer-de-lance snake, caimans, howler monkeys and sloths.’
    • ‘Monkeys, tapirs, sloths, anteaters, and bats abound, all in an area the size of West Virginia.’
    • ‘South America was also home to living species of armadillos and sloths.’
    • ‘Dogs, rhinoceroses, tree sloths, horses, and whales are placentals.’
    • ‘This category includes three very different groups of animals: the armadillos, the ant-eaters, and the sloths.’
    • ‘The first has been likened to tree sloths and the second compared to koala bears.’
    • ‘The sloths and armadillos are rather odd mammals characteristic of South America.’
    • ‘They come down trees head-first like squirrels; stand on their hind legs balancing on their tails like kangaroos; and crawl and hang upside-down in the canopy like sloths.’
  • 3rare A group of bears:

    ‘the pair had been attacked by a sloth of bears’
    • ‘"Isn't thirteen a large number for a sloth of bears?" "It certainly is," the hunter answered, "six is as many as I ever saw together."’
    • ‘Where food is plentiful, like at a salmon stream, you will often see a sloth of bears.’
    • ‘The food that bears eat is not often found in large quantities and would not be enough to feed a group, or sloth, of bears.’


Old English: from slow + -th.