Main definitions of slack in US English:

: slack1slack2



  • 1Not taut or held tightly in position; loose.

    ‘a slack rope’
    ‘her mouth went slack’
    • ‘Suddenly I felt my jaw nearly go slack.’
    • ‘It took just one heave and one ho for the rope to go slack as my former self went head over heels into the pit.’
    • ‘What I saw then nearly made my jaw go slack.’
    • ‘Even the hand that had consistently gripped his own through the whole encounter fell slack.’
    • ‘Lynx saw to his right the rope go slack, and saw the same on his left, and felt the bridge leave from under his feet.’
    • ‘They moved around behind the tree, then the rope went slack and the ground smashed up.’
    • ‘After a slack tuning (to go easy on the new strings), the instrument was pounded on by a machine to break the key mechanism in evenly.’
    • ‘Among the flap of slack sails she heard the men talking, but made no effort to understand their conversation.’
    • ‘In Compagnie Cahin Caha, director Gulko performs a near-calamitous off-balance act on the slack rope.’
    • ‘I felt my jaw go slack then I snapped it closed.’
    • ‘He tried to stand up to get in a better position, gasping, but then the Urg's grip went slack and he limped over, dead.’
    • ‘Her face became taut, then she went slack with a strange despair.’
    • ‘Hearing this devastating turn of conversation, my jaw fell slack in disbelief.’
    • ‘His jaw quivered and dropped, while the rest of his body fell slack.’
    • ‘I held the slack rope taut in various positions and Jim measured and recorded the segments' lengths.’
    • ‘The fledgling's breathing and heartbeat slowed, taut muscles went slack, and his third eyelids slid halfway across his bright gaze.’
    loose, limp, not taut, not tight, hanging, flapping
    flaccid, flabby, loose, sagging, saggy, drooping, droopy, soft
    baggy, loose-fitting, loose, not tight, generously cut, roomy
    View synonyms
  • 2(of business) characterized by a lack of work or activity; quiet.

    ‘business was rather slack’
    • ‘The slack economy is shrinking tax receipts, notes economist Susan Hering of UBS Warburg LLC.’
    • ‘If business is slack, plans for a new van are postponed.’
    • ‘Business appeared to be slack for the stall holders.’
    • ‘If you have quality, there is never gonna be a slack time for your restaurant.’
    • ‘Some employers, it seems, are capitalizing on the slack job market.’
    • ‘The local tourism industry arranges winter celebrations and activities to prevent a slack season.’
    • ‘However, somewhere in the lean, mean 1980s and '90s, the importance of slack resources was lost.’
    • ‘If energy prices were high when the economy was slack, how much higher would they go when it was firing on all cylinders?’
    • ‘Another drag on the economy is slack domestic demand.’
    • ‘But matters are often made a great deal worse by slack micro-management practices adding to the burden.’
    • ‘One plus from slack labor demand will be lower inflation next year.’
    • ‘With a slack Mexican economy, Modelo's contribution to net this year is about flat.’
    • ‘Repayments can be cut back during slack periods.’
    • ‘Business was slack, unusual for that time of morning.’
    • ‘But getting angry with himself for making this mistake was just as fruitless as brooding over the slack business owner.’
    • ‘The average occupancy rate of the hotels has exceeded 90 per cent, with significant recovery from an earlier slack business season.’
    • ‘But later he began to put off payment, giving the excuse that business was slack.’
    • ‘With little access to credit, they were not well equipped to withstand competition or slack periods of trade.’
    • ‘They can still sell at a very handsome profit even in a slack market and some did.’
    • ‘Pricier oil, a strong euro, and slack labor markets are all big factors.’
    1. 2.1 Slow or sluggish.
      ‘they were working at a slack pace’
      • ‘If his first novel feels a little slack, however, Norman's more recent work seems to have tipped over into a more deterministic mode.’
      • ‘Though the pace is slack and the jokes are slim, the chemistry between Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson is as sparkly as ever.’
      • ‘I've been through this before, selling a house into a slack, sluggish market.’
      • ‘And he certainly hasn't been slack since getting to Calgary, either.’
      • ‘Tightly edited, FUBAR doesn't grow as slack or indulgent as many mockumentaries do.’
      • ‘The industry is still swamped with capacity, and the slack economy has slowed demand.’
      • ‘The one thing we both agreed on was the slack service.’
      • ‘These attacks will continue, and enforcement will be slack, especially if Boy George gets another four years.’
      • ‘‘Winter is not a slack season for power use as many people think,’ he said.’
      • ‘So I wasn't ready to be there, I was a bit slack, and I guess I was difficult.’
      • ‘They're not actually rude or deliberately slack (unlike some of the Cafe Uno staff), just dubiously competent.’
      • ‘One minute later however Leixlip went ahead again courtesy of some very slack defending.’
      sluggish, slow, quiet, slow-moving, not busy, inactive, flat, depressed, stagnant
      View synonyms
  • 3Having or showing laziness or negligence.

    ‘slack accounting procedures’
    • ‘He said his new department was slack and inefficient.’
    • ‘Haxby United edged into a 1-0 lead over visiting Old Malton when slack defensive play let in David Thompson for a well-taken header.’
    • ‘I'm feeling awful because I've been so terribly slack lately.’
    • ‘My dad says that the public schools here are too slack.’
    • ‘It would be different, I guess, if the parent was not present, but this slack approach to parenting is disgraceful.’
    • ‘Villa never gave up, however, and in the last minute they took advantage of slack play in our defence to make it 4-3.’
    • ‘Hanssen was slack about ‘tradecraft’ because he knew just how remote the possibility of discovery was.’
    • ‘City of York VIII crashed 5-0 to hosts Rotherham, the visitors throwing the game away by slack marking.’
    • ‘But one issue is more important than slack students, ill-prepared teachers or indifferent parents.’
    • ‘In the second half Penrith got back in the game when slack marking left a defender free to prod in.’
    • ‘I don't think I'm being too slack here.’
    • ‘In principle, the steady drone of flat, slack sentences reproduces the demoralised world they depict, not the limits of the writer's talent.’
    • ‘It can never be slack or lazy; I can never assume anyone will read it just because it's there.’
    • ‘I'm sorry I've been so slack with updating.’
    • ‘They're all getting drunk in a bar somewhere, moaning about how slack Cape Town business people are.’
    • ‘Security at Frankfurt airport was incredibly slack.’
    • ‘Steve Staunton's resulting centre picked out Angel who took advantage of slack marking to head past Steve Banks.’
    • ‘Our spirits are willing but the flesh, alas, is slack.’
    • ‘Is this Government so slack, so lax, and so incompetent that it has not actually considered that issue before today?’
    • ‘They say they have no idea when or how Beggs got into the country because of slack EU border controls.’
    • ‘Five first-half tries put them firmly in control only for Salford to make the most of some slack defence.’
    • ‘You can be slack at times if you are too assured, but fortunately I have never had that sort of luxury.’
    lax, negligent, neglectful, remiss, careless, slapdash, slipshod, lackadaisical, lazy, inefficient, incompetent, inattentive, offhand, casual, disorderly, disorganized
    View synonyms
  • 4(of a tide) neither ebbing nor flowing.

    ‘soon the water will become slack, and the tide will turn’
    • ‘Enter too soon before, or too long after slack tide, and we will get blown off the reef and possibly end up in a very dangerous position.’
    • ‘When the tide turns and the water becomes slack, the dives are dull, with little wildlife.’
    • ‘This species is more active at night during slack tides.’
    • ‘The sea becomes still - it is slack tide.’
    • ‘Expect the main action to come the two hours either side of slack water.’
    • ‘I have never found out when slack water is at Wolf Rock.’
    • ‘Reeling the little Calcutta 400 quite quickly in the slack tide gave the eel just that little extra zip and fish attracting noise in the water.’
    • ‘There is plenty of time for storytelling as we wait for slack tide.’
    • ‘On neap tides it's usually slack enough to dive an hour before this and up to an hour after.’


  • 1The part of a rope or line which is not held taut; the loose or unused part.

    ‘I picked up the rod and wound in the slack’
    • ‘Stay loose and leave a little slack - you know Murphy's Law's operating, so go with the flow.’
    • ‘But, as I rose and Pung pulled in the slack on the rope, I felt totally secure - far more confident than during my low viewpoint descent.’
    • ‘A sport climber will keep falling until he is past the last quickdraw he's clipped into and all the slack in the rope is taut.’
    • ‘He had taken up the slack in the rope he felt me give him and then raced as fast as he could up to the only available anchor - a tree.’
    • ‘We decided that even if all the slack in the rigging had been removed, the 45m rope would still have been well short.’
    • ‘With the slack in the rope, she darted forward, and pinched the bulge in her teeth, and tugged, eliciting a scream from Spade.’
    • ‘I was so eager that I took off without waiting for Ben to answer or to take the slack out of the rope.’
    • ‘He went until the rope pulled tight and then he barked for more slack to be given.’
    • ‘You might have a bit of slack in the rope but it will just tighten up at the other end.’
    • ‘I followed and when I arrived at the slung chockstone I yelled for slack to get some rope in order to lower myself across the slab.’
    • ‘She puts slack on the rope and tells the stupid man just to back away slowly.’
    • ‘Show how to lead properly by having slack in the lead rope and allowing the horse to carry his head at a natural level.’
    • ‘We had taken most of the slack out of the ropes, but there was always some.’
    looseness, play, give
    View synonyms
  • 2slacksCasual trousers.

    • ‘I dressed business casual with slacks, dress shoes and a dress shirt.’
    • ‘Once settled, he removed his robes and wiped off the snow from his slacks and trousers.’
    • ‘He wore a brightly flowered shirt and a pair of loose, tan slacks.’
    • ‘It's perfectly proper to see a sample of their work, their silks, their slacks, their dress shirts.’
    • ‘He wore a white cotton undershirt and blue slacks now; his eyes were bloodshot from obvious lack of sleep.’
    • ‘Very little covered his lean frame, the only exception a loose pair of off-grey slacks.’
    • ‘He was a person of average height and build, usually well dressed in his casual slacks, button up shirts, and a zip up sweater.’
    • ‘While I don't wear suits to class, I've been known to show up in a nice sweater and wool slacks.’
    • ‘He wore just a plain black blazer with matching slacks, white shirt, and black tie.’
    • ‘As part of his three-year deal with the Minneapolis-based retailer, Tryon will help develop a line of shirts and slacks aimed at young shoppers.’
    • ‘He was dressed in casual style, wearing a white cotton golf shirt, brownish-gray slacks and pristine white Reeboks.’
    • ‘I remember his hands and loose slacks, but I can't remember his face.’
    • ‘Morgan took in her casual slacks and cream colored silk shirt with a raised eyebrow.’
    • ‘Wearing skintight slacks definitely does not adhere to today's styles and trends, and goes against the general preference of women.’
    • ‘He wore casual white slacks with a matching shirt.’
    • ‘Jady turned towards the tall muse, seeing him in loose fitting slacks, bright red hair cut in short spikes.’
    • ‘The uniform consists of a tunic and trousers or slacks.’
    • ‘You can use a hanger with clamps or slide the slacks onto a trouser rod or regular hanger.’
    • ‘He has done all the recommended things like wearing boxers and loose slacks.’
    • ‘Wear them with jeans, stylish dress slacks, drawstring pants, and cargo pants or shorts.’
  • 3informal A spell of inactivity or laziness.

    ‘he slept deeply, refreshed by a little slack in the daily routine’
    • ‘They deliberately built slack into middle managers' schedules.’
    lull, pause, respite, spell of inactivity, interval, break, hiatus, breathing space
    View synonyms


[with object]
  • 1Loosen (something, especially a rope).

    • ‘The rope would tighten and then slack and then tighten, jerking Darren while all the time cutting into his already tore up wrists.’
  • 2Decrease or reduce in intensity, quantity, or speed.

    no object ‘the flow of blood slacked off’
    with object ‘the horse slacked his pace’
    • ‘By slacking, you simply reduce the size of the pie that your parents will eventually divide equally.’
    • ‘The rain soon slacked off and now a small cold drizzle was falling.’
    • ‘Pyra is slacking a bit, and just because I know and respect them as a company and as individuals doesn't mean I shouldn't call them on it.’
    • ‘Not only was the show superior, it was consistently superior; the show's quality never slacked off during its four seasons.’
    • ‘I slacked everything to make the man believe that I had given up.’
    • ‘A person whose performance has slacked off may be reacting to changes in the work environment, management, work task or assignment.’
    • ‘Claire practically rolled her eyes in agreement when we suggested that Victor - who was mellow and flirtatious to a fault - had slacked off.’
    • ‘I slacked off with my training because I felt powerful.’
    • ‘The more they slacked off, the harder the drills became - you could almost swear this type of work was illegal in most states.’
    • ‘Bettina was working out consistently a year ago, but because of work demands she slacked off.’
    • ‘If milk production should slack this year, NFDM could jump 2 to 4 cents per pound during 2005.’
    • ‘He had shaggy brown hair and a little scruff on his face that looked as if he had slacked a little on shaving for the summer.’
    • ‘I am still reading the book on Buddhism, though I'll admit to having slacked off in the last couple of days.’
    • ‘She never slacked off and she was a good saleswoman.’
    • ‘After slacking it off for a bit Sierra decided to start on it.’
    • ‘Nevermind that I've slacked off the upper body work recently, I have been too hard on myself.’
    • ‘Unfortunately I slacked off big time during the third week.’
    • ‘Judd, too, seems to have slacked off, except during bitter quarrels with Mal.’
    • ‘Gradually, the wind speed slacks, skies clear and temperatures moderate.’
    • ‘The team hadn't played with the intensity needed to win, we'd slacked off, and it had almost cost us a loss to the Beavers of the west.’
    reduce, lessen, slacken, slow, ease off, ease up
    decrease, lessen, subside, get less, let up, ease off, abate, moderate, diminish, dwindle, die down, fall off, drop off, taper off, ebb, recede, wane
    relax, take things easy, let up, ease off, ease up, do less, loosen up, slow down, be less active
    slow down, slow, decelerate, reduce speed, drop speed, put the brakes on
    View synonyms
  • 3British informal no object Work slowly or lazily.

    ‘she reprimanded her girls if they were slacking’
    • ‘For the last two years, he has slowly slacked off and now doesn't give me anything!’
    • ‘My goodness Charlotte you have really been slacking these past few days, haven't you?’
    • ‘But now it was April, the weather was getting warm, and everyone one was slacking a bit.’
    • ‘Once I realized that I'd slacked myself past the point where that would be possible, I decided to shoot for running it next year.’
    • ‘A lot of men died in earlier wars just because they slacked off.’
    idle, shirk, be inactive, be lazy, be indolent, sit back and do nothing, waste time, lounge about
    View synonyms
  • 4Slake (lime).


  • Loosely.

    ‘their heads were hanging slack in attitudes of despair’


  • cut someone some slack

    • informal Allow someone some leeway in their conduct.

      • ‘It's 25 pages long, so you'll need to cut yourself a little slack to do it.’
      • ‘Should reporters cut General Clark some slack?’
      • ‘As he is from Armagh originally I tend to cut him more slack than I think I should.’
      • ‘Maybe this is what cutting yourself a little slack feels like.’
      • ‘He sounds like an old guy, though, so if he calls back we'll cut him a little slack.’
      • ‘And that's why Slashdot readers should cut him a little slack.’
      • ‘Given that these folks have a cemetery in their backyard, however, I guess we can cut them some slack.’
      • ‘Now that I know Colorado Springs, in his district, is the home of the Dominionists, I feel I can cut some more slack for the guy.’
      • ‘He adjusted my schedule and cut me some slack when I just wanted to enjoy a ride instead of a focused workout.’
      • ‘And remember to cut others slack if they make a bad impression on you.’
  • take (or pick) up the slack

    • 1Use up a surplus or improve the use of resources to avoid an undesirable lull in business.

      ‘as domestic demand starts to flag, foreign demand will help pick up the slack’
      • ‘When a participating company goes out of business, others pick up the slack.’
      • ‘Europe's economy picked up some of the slack, but it too is set to slow.’
      • ‘That has ended, but strong demand for Internet-enabling software and consultancies has taken up the slack.’
      • ‘The key to breaking the cycle is to boost demand and take up the slack in the economy.’
      • ‘This is how a humane company avoids lay-offs - we take up the slack when someone leaves or retires and keep the headcount slim.’
      • ‘Are the self-employed really taking up enough of the slack?’
      • ‘However, the barriers to entry aren't large, and new companies have come into being to take the slack.’
      • ‘As the rain persists and reservoirs back up, homes, businesses and roads take up the slack.’
      • ‘That means we have to count on business investment to pick up the slack.’
      • ‘There is no room to pick up any of the slack with cars.’
      surplus, excess, residue, spare capacity
      View synonyms
    • 2Pull on the loose end or part of a rope in order to make it taut.

      • ‘The Instructor gave her a slap on the rump and then proceeded to take up the slack on the rope.’
      • ‘As soon as DC felt weight on the rope he anchored like any good cow horse will and took up the slack in the rope.’


Old English slæc ‘inclined to be lazy, unhurried’, of Germanic origin; related to Latin laxus ‘loose’.




Main definitions of slack in US English:

: slack1slack2



  • Coal dust or small pieces of coal.

    • ‘Previously, miners had been paid $0.39 per ton of large coal and $0.17 for riddled slack.’


Late Middle English: probably from Low German or Dutch.