Word of the Day: slack

Word of the Day
June 28, 2016
slack (adjective, noun, adverb)
/slæk/  sound icon
A slack rope
When something is slack, we mean that it is not tight, that it is loose, and, figuratively, it means 'not busy or active.' It also means 'negligent, lazy, or careless' when referring to a person. As a noun, a slack is a reduction in activity or the period in which activity decreases. It is also the part of a rope that hangs loose, and in this sense it is uncountable. As a verb, slack means 'to loosen or make less tight' and, figuratively, to reduce the efforts or the intensity of something and in these two senses it is often used with off. It can also mean 'to be lazy or neglectful of your work' and is sometimes used with off in this sense.


Example sentences
The rope is slack; you need to tighten it.
Business is a bit slack at the moment.
Adam can be slack when it comes to organizing things.
The factory experienced a slack after the busy Christmas period.
The rope was loose, so the sailor took up the slack and tightened it.
The crew slacked off the sails.
Henry slacked off his visits to his aunt.
Imogen is always slacking; she never does any work!


Multi-word forms
cut someone some slack: not be too hard on someone. Example: "I know you don't like Richard, but cut him some slack; he's not so bad when you get to know him!
take up the slack, pick up the slack: compensate for something missing or not completed. Example: "Several workers were off sick, so their colleagues had to take up the slack."
Did you know?
As a plural noun, slacks are pants (US) or trousers (UK) and can be for either men or women. 
Other forms
slackness (noun), slackly (adverb)
Slack has been used since before the year 900, and can be traced through the Middle English adjective slac (which meant 'loose') back to the Old English word sleac or slæc. It is similar to the Old Norse slakr, the Old High German slach, and the Latin laxus or lax, also meaning 'loose.'
Slack in other languages
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