One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A person who is habitually messy or careless.
- ‘Battered, weather-beaten taxis, driven by sloven drivers, their shirts unbuttoned, looking as weather-beaten as their vehicles.’
- ‘Yet Seibei is grave and self-possessed, not a sloven but a man committed to various duties-among them the care of his dotty mother and his two beloved children.’
- ‘I help the auctioneer, the sloven does not half know his business.’
- ‘He may have been king of the aesthetes and the quintessential dandy about town - but behind the bedroom door, Oscar Wilde lived the life of a careless sloven.’
Late 15th century (in the sense ‘person with base manners’): perhaps from Flemish sloef ‘dirty’ or Dutch slof ‘careless, negligent’.
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