1560s, from slide (v.). As a smooth inclined surface down which something can be slid, from 1680s; the playground slide is from 1890. Meaning "collapse of a hillside, landslide" is from 1660s. As a working part of a musical instrument from 1800 (as in slide-trombone, 1891). Meaning "rapid downturn" is from 1884. Meaning "picture prepared for use with a projector" is from 1819 (in reference to magic lanterns). Baseball sense is from 1886. Slide-guitar is from 1968.
Old English slidan (intransitive, past tense slad, past participle sliden) "to glide, slip, fall, fall down;" figuratively "fail, lapse morally, err; be transitory or unstable," from Proto-Germanic *slidan "to slip, slide" (source also of Old High German slito, German Schlitten "sleigh, sled"), from PIE root *sleidh- "to slide, slip" (source also of Lithuanian slystu "to glide, slide," Old Church Slavonic sledu "track," Greek olisthos "slipperiness," olisthanein "to slip," Middle Irish sloet "slide").
Meaning "slip, lose one's footing" is from early 13c. Transitive sense from 1530s. Phrase let (something) slide "let it take its own course, take no consideration of" is in Chaucer (late 14c.) and Shakespeare. Sliding scale in reference to payments, etc., is from 1842.
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