slash (verb, noun) /slæʃ/ LISTEN
To slash means ‘to cut with a violent stroke‘ and, figuratively, to ‘cut or reduce,’ as might be done with salaries, budgets, or prices. Figuratively, mainly in US English, to slash also means ‘to criticize harshly.’ As a noun, a slash is a sweeping stroke, a wound inflicted by such a stroke, or a reduction. In clothing, it is a decorative slit in a garment showing an underlying fabric. In UK English a slash is a slang term for urination.
- I left my car parked in the street and someone slashed my tires.
- The store is slashing prices on all its stock.
- Critics have slashed the director's latest movie.
- The swordsman's slash missed his opponent.
- The doctor stitched the slash in the patient's arm.
- The slash to her salary has left Lucy struggling.
- The skirt is black with a slash of red.
- Will finished his beer and announced that he was going for a slash.
In pop culture
Slash is the stage name of British-American musician Saul Hudson. He is perhaps best known as the lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses. You can listen to Guns N’ Roses singing their song “Sweet Child of Mine,” with Slash on lead guitar, here:
In US English, a slash is an area of wet or swampy ground that is overgrown with bushes or trees. It is frequently used in the plural, slashes, to talk about several such pieces of ground located close together. Also in US English, to slash a plot of land means to cut down all the trees, to make it ready for construction or farming.
Did you know?
In writing or printing, a slash is an oblique stroke, often used in URLs (web page addresses). For example, if you spelled out the address of the WordReference English only dictionary, www.wordreference.com/definition, you would say, “www dot wordreference dot com slash definition.”
Slashes are also used to mean ‘or.’ So, for example you could write to a friend, “Would you like to go for a coffee/drink/dinner sometime?” which would mean you were suggesting doing one of those things, depending on what your friend might like to do. Slashes can also show that something has more than one function, so a bar/restaurant would be a bar that also serves food.
Slash dates back to the mid- to late 14th century, however, it has only been found once in texts before the 16th century, so some dictionaries date it back to the mid-16th century, when it became commonly used. The Middle English verb slaschen originally meant ‘to cut with the stroke of a blade or a whip.’ Its origin is uncertain, but many linguists believe that it could have come into English from the Middle French esclachier (to break), a variant of the Old French verb esclater (to break, splinter or burst). It probably came into French from the Old Frankish slaitan (to tear or slit) or a similar Germanic source, and is related to the Old High German slizan (to slit), as well as the English words slat and slit. The meaning ‘to strike violently’ dates back to the mid-17th century, and it has been used figuratively to mean ‘to clear land’ since the early 19th century, and ‘to cut prices’ since the early 20th century. The noun comes from the verb and, meaning ‘a cutting stroke with a weapon,’ dates back to the mid- to late 16th century. Its use in clothing dates back to the early 17th century, and as a description of an area of land in the US, it was first used in the early 19th century. The name for the punctuation mark dates back to the 1960s.