Etymology
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slide (v.)

Middle English sliden, "glide, move smoothly and easily over a surface," also "to fall, lose one's balance through slipping," from 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 *slidanan "to slip, slide" (source also of Old High German slito, German Schlitten "sleigh, sled"), from PIE root *sleidh- forming words for "to slide, slip; slippery" (source also of Lithuanian slysti "to glide, slide," Old Church Slavonic sledu "track," Greek olisthos "slipperiness," olisthanein "to slip," Middle Irish sloet "slide").

The meaning "lose one's balance through slipping, lose one's footing" is attested from early 13c. (for distinction from slip, see below). The transitive sense of "cause to glide or move along a surface" is from 1530s. The meaning "pass gradually from one state or condition to another" is from late 14c. Related: Slid; slidden; sliding.

The 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., varying under certain conditions is from 1842.

We slide or slip on a smooth surface : we slide by intention ; we slip in spite of ourselves. In the Bible slide is used for slip. Slide generally refers to a longer movement : as, to slide down hill ; to slip on the ice. We glide by a smooth and easy motion, as in a boat over or through the water. [Century Dictionary]

slide (n.)

1560s, "act, fact, or manner of sliding," from slide (v.). As a smooth inclined surface down which something can be slid, from 1680s.

The playground slide is by 1900, short for sliding board (1899). The meaning "collapse of a hillside, landslide" is attested from 1660s. As a working part of a musical instrument from 1800 (as in slide-trombone, 1891, as opposed to one with keys). The meaning "rapid downturn" is from 1884.

The meaning "picture prepared for use with a projector" is from 1819 (in reference to magic lanterns); earlier it was called a slider (1793). The base-running sense in baseball is attested by 1886. Slide-guitar is from 1968; the effect is attained by sliding an object (beer bottle neck, etc.) along the strings.

updated on January 11, 2023

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