Definition of slippery in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘On slippery surfaces, a very smooth traction and skid control system will cut in to ensure that things never get out of hand.’
    • ‘Again McLean was involved when he latched on to Andy Smith's misplaced header and sent in a vicious shot which skidded goalward off the slippery surface.’
    • ‘As it was, the two sides struggled to adapt to the slippery surface and the game progressed, strewn with errors.’
    • ‘Part of the work involved the application of a plastic lining which subsequently proved to be a safety risk due to its slippery surface.’
    • ‘These are for general driving and slippery surfaces on-road, plus three off road settings: mud, sand and rocks.’
    • ‘A heavy shower before the game made for a slippery surface and much sliding and difficulty in gaining possession.’
    • ‘On slippery surfaces, the car takes over and automatically controls steering torque to prevent a spin-out.’
    • ‘Its purpose is to provide a smooth, almost slippery, surface for later burnishing, but the red and yellow boles also enrich the colour of the gilding.’
    • ‘All that torque causes some problems on slippery surfaces.’
    • ‘The match, which was put into severe doubt the previous day with a covering of snow and slush on the pitch, inevitably turned out to be quite scrappy due to the slippery surface.’
    • ‘Mr Clayton claimed that too little sand was used in the resin compound, so instead of giving extra grip, the surface became smooth and slippery.’
    • ‘But it was still difficult for the cars to stop on slippery surfaces when something unexpected occurred.’
    • ‘It's unwise to charge up a hill at full speed but conserving momentum is crucial to avoid getting caught out by the slippery surface.’
    • ‘The trapped bees try to escape from the flowers by climbing the sepals, but escape is made even more difficult by the slippery waxy sepal surface.’
    • ‘It creaked beneath his feet and he ignored the slippery surface.’
    • ‘Loss of balance on a slippery surface, especially ice or snow, is also common.’
    • ‘My tennis shoes slipped over the slippery surface of the rock.’
    • ‘Poor weather conditions and an extremely slippery surface greatly hindered the playing of good football.’
    • ‘Wear low-heeled shoes with non-slip soles and check your house for slippery surfaces that might cause you to trip or fall.’
    • ‘There are also gearbox modes for slippery surfaces or for faster gear changes.’
    slithery, greasy, oily, icy, glassy, smooth, slick
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1(of a person) evasive and unpredictable; not to be relied on.
      ‘Martin's a slippery customer’
      • ‘Father Jack, as we're now calling him, is on a moral crusade, after all the polling showed that everyone thinks he's too slippery.’
      • ‘Only a fool would claim otherwise - a fool, or a slippery lawyer.’
      • ‘In this hour, a general talks strategy against a slippery enemy.’
      • ‘The Right will see how political spin and slippery personalities can sell questionable character to the voters.’
      • ‘These days it's impossible to avoid the plethora of slippery politicians all over our TV screens, PC monitors and radio airwaves.’
      • ‘But last night he proved he could also turn on the power in the latter stages after initially being frustrated by his slippery opponent.’
      • ‘These money men are as practised in the art of the ‘spin’ as the most slippery politician.’
      • ‘He's a slippery character whose public statements remind you of certain other politicians.’
      • ‘Having interrogated endless politicians, business leaders and other slippery characters, he knows exactly how to keep control.’
      • ‘It was much harder to tackle him down, partly because he was so slippery.’
      • ‘Jolly and devious, she is an appealingly slippery figure.’
      • ‘Have I been taken in, or is she just a slippery customer?’
      • ‘No slippery politician was going to give me the kind of straight talk I was looking for, but only politicians and platitudes were on offer.’
      • ‘They are a bunch of desperate slippery folks, and re-election and banishment is coming upon them soon.’
      • ‘And a nice change from forceful journalists shouting at slippery politicians.’
      • ‘Then Richard had become an asset, someone she wanted to be able to move around, but he was slippery.’
      • ‘But you are still slippery when it comes to actually fixing that date to meet up.’
      • ‘This eternally slippery character then keeps cropping up throughout the story to pass judgment on pivotal events.’
      • ‘A policeman has told how he bravely apprehended a slippery customer.’
      • ‘He's being a slippery character who fails to show any sign of remorse or even responsibility for his work.’
      evasive, unreliable, unpredictable, hard to pin down
      View synonyms
    2. 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’
      • ‘But all you are doing is demonstrating what an absolutely slippery concept tax avoidance is.’
      • ‘The slippery concept of postmodernism is sometimes applied to all the above ideologies.’
      • ‘Clarifying this slippery concept, however, suggests that the most important changes pointed to by postmodernism are political.’
      • ‘Bias in the context of this case is a slippery term.’
      • ‘But ideas turn around, they are as slippery as eels, and it's easy to lose control of them.’
      • ‘Party allegiance itself has become a more slippery concept, as political cross-dressing blurs the lines between the parties.’
      • ‘All this may be true, but these are slippery words.’
      • ‘Simplicity is a slippery concept, but the best technologies can be learned by looking at the input device, not by studying a manual.’
      • ‘Governments of course always claim to be acting in the national interest, but it's a very slippery term.’
      • ‘But existential is a slippery word, in politics as well as philosophy.’
      • ‘Aristotle was a thoroughgoing ‘empiricist’ in two senses of that slippery term.’
      • ‘It's a nuanced world we live in, and responsibility is such a slippery concept.’
      • ‘Police effectiveness is a notoriously slippery concept to define or measure.’
      • ‘In that context the election packages, dignified artificially by the term manifesto, were based on very slippery assumptions.’
      • ‘I firmly believe the answer is no, if one wants to retain any meaningful working definition of the slippery concept of consciousness.’
      • ‘But the slippery term keeps expanding to encompass more and more groups.’
      • ‘I have found the point, as I say, finely balanced. ‘Facility’ is a slippery word.’
      • ‘The fabricated nature of a dispute as a precondition for the admissibility of a referral is a slippery concept, not without dangerous pitfalls.’
      • ‘ART is a slippery, infinitely subjective concept, and maybe the hardest word to define, but plenty of people have given it a shot.’
      • ‘I was not concerned with the noise, or the ‘nuisance’ - a very slippery concept - but with safety.’


  • slippery slope

    • An idea or course of action which will lead to something unacceptable, wrong, or disastrous.

      ‘he is on the slippery slope toward a life of crime’
      • ‘In the very least, it is part of the slippery slope that has led to dislocation, desperation and even despair.’
      • ‘Critics say the law would be a slippery slope leading to anti-abortion laws in Canada.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Let me a bit more explicit, by identifying three particular ways that the slippery slope can work here.’
      • ‘The idea that a decision cannot be judged at the moment but only retrospectively opens a slippery slope of justification.’
      • ‘And would changes along these lines be a slippery slope or a maturing process within the framework of the United Kingdom?’
      • ‘Once you start putting police all over the place, including private businesses, it become a slippery slope.’
      • ‘They're offering an argument that, should you accept it, drops you on a slippery slope leading down to veganism.’
      • ‘The concern, of course, is that ID cards could lead the country down a slippery slope.’


Late 15th century: from dialect slipper slippery.