From Old English slīm, from From Proto-Germanic *slīmą. Cognates include Dutch slijm, German Schleim ‎(mucus, slime), also see Latin limus ‎(mud), Ancient Greek λίμνη ‎(límnē, marsh).



slime ‎(countable and uncountable, plural slimes)

  1. Soft, moist earth or clay, having an adhesive quality; viscous mud; any substance of a dirty nature, that is moist, soft, and adhesive; bitumen; mud containing metallic ore, obtained in the preparatory dressing.
    • Shakespeare
      As it [the Nile] ebbs, the seedsman / Upon the slime and ooze scatters his grain.
  2. Any mucilaginous substance; or a mucus-like substance which exudes from the bodies of certain animals, such as snails or slugs.
  3. (informal, derogatory) A sneaky, unethical person; a slimeball.
    • 2005, G. E. Nordell, Backlot Requiem: A Rick Walker Mystery
      If this guy knows who killed Robert, the right thing to do is to tell the police. If he doesn't know, really, then he's an opportunistic slime. It's still blackmail.
  4. (figuratively, obsolete) Human flesh, seen disparagingly; mere human form.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.x:
      th'eternall Lord in fleshly slime / Enwombed was, from wretched Adams line / To purge away the guilt of sinfull crime [...].
  5. (obsolete) = Jew’s slime (bitumen)
    • 1611, Bible (KJV), Genesis 11:3:
      And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.

Derived termsEdit


  • (any substance of a dirty nature): sludge



slime ‎(third-person singular simple present slimes, present participle sliming, simple past and past participle slimed)

  1. (transitive) To coat with slime.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 7, in The China Governess[1]:
      ‘Children crawled over each other like little grey worms in the gutters,’ he said. ‘The only red things about them were their buttocks and they were raw. Their faces looked as if snails had slimed on them and their mothers were like great sick beasts whose byres had never been cleared. […]’
  2. (transitive, figuratively) To besmirch or disparage.


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