give someone the slip

verb (used without object), slipped or (Archaic) slipt; slipped; slip·ping.

  1. to move, flow, pass, or go smoothly or easily; glide; slide: Water slips off a smooth surface.
  2. to slide suddenly or involuntarily; to lose one’s foothold, as on a smooth surface: She slipped on the icy ground.
  3. to move, slide, or start gradually from a place or position: His hat had slipped over his eyes.
  4. to slide out of or become disengaged from a fastening, the grasp, etc.: The soap slipped from my hand.
  5. to pass without having been acted upon or used; be lost; get away: to let an opportunity slip.
  6. to pass from the mind, memory, or consciousness.
  7. to elapse or pass quickly or imperceptibly (often followed by away or by): The years slipped by.
  8. to become involved or absorbed easily: to slip into a new way of life.
  9. to move or go quietly, cautiously, or unobtrusively: to slip out of a room.
  10. to put on or take off a garment easily or quickly: She slipped on the new sweater. He slipped off his shoes.
  11. to make a mistake or error: As far as I know, you haven’t slipped once.
  12. to fall below a standard or accustomed level, or to decrease in quantity or quality; decline; deteriorate: His work slipped last year.
  13. to be said or revealed inadvertently (usually followed by out): The words just slipped out.
  14. to read, study, consider, etc., without attention: He slipped over the most important part.
  15. Aeronautics. (of an aircraft when excessively banked) to slide sideways, toward the center of the curve described in turning.Compare skid(def 15).

verb (used with object), slipped or (Archaic) slipt; slipped; slip·ping.

  1. to cause to move, pass, go, etc., with a smooth, easy, or sliding motion.
  2. to put, place, pass, insert, or withdraw quickly or stealthily: to slip a letter into a person’s hand.
  3. to put on or take off (a garment) easily or quickly: He slipped the shirt over his head.
  4. to let or make (something) slide out of a fastening, the hold, etc.: I slipped the lock, and the door creaked open.
  5. to release from a leash, harness, etc., as a hound or a hawk.
  6. to get away or free oneself from; escape (a pursuer, restraint, leash, etc.): The cow slipped its halter.
  7. to untie or undo (a knot).
  8. Nautical. to let go entirely, as an anchor cable or an anchor.
  9. to pass from or escape (one’s memory, attention, knowledge, etc.).
  10. to dislocate; put out of joint or position: I slipped a disk in my back.
  11. to shed or cast: The rattlesnake slipped its skin.
  12. to ignore, pass over, or omit, as in speaking or writing.
  13. to let pass unheeded; neglect or miss.
  14. Boxing. to evade or avoid (a blow) by moving or turning the body quickly: He slipped a right and countered with a hard left.
  15. (of animals) to bring forth (offspring) prematurely.
  16. British. to detach (a railway car) from a moving train as it passes through a station.


  1. an act or instance of slipping.
  2. a sudden losing of one’s foothold, as on slippery ground.
  3. a mistake in judgment; blunder.
  4. a mistake or oversight, as in speaking or writing, especially a small one due to carelessness: a minor slip in addition; a slip of the tongue.
  5. an error in conduct; indiscretion.
  6. something easily slipped on or off.
  7. a decline or fall in quantity, quality, extent, etc., or from a standard or accustomed level: a slip in prices.
  8. Clothing.
    1. a woman’s undergarment, sleeveless and usually having shoulder straps, extending from above the bust down to the hemline of the outer dress.
    2. an underskirt, as a half-slip or petticoat.
  9. a pillowcase.
  10. an inclined plane, sloping to the water, on which vessels are built or repaired.
  11. Nautical. the difference between the speed at which a screw propeller or paddle wheel would move if it were working against a solid and the actual speed at which it advances through the water.
  12. a space between two wharves or in a dock for vessels to lie in.
  13. Electricity. the difference between the synchronous and the operating speeds of a motor.
  14. Machinery.
    1. the difference between output speed and input or theoretical speed in certain fluid or electromagnetic devices, as couplings or motors.
    2. (in pumps) the difference between the actual volume of water or other liquid delivered by a pump during one complete stroke and the theoretical volume as determined by calculation of the displacement.
  15. unintended movement or play between mechanical parts or the like.
  16. Cricket.
    1. the position of a fielder who stands behind and to the offside of the wicketkeeper.
    2. the fielder playing this position.
  17. Geology.
    1. the relative displacement of formerly adjacent points on opposite sides of a fault, measured along the fault plane.
    2. a small fault.
  18. Also called glide. Metallurgy. plastic deformation of one part of a metallic crystal relative to the other part due to shearing action.

Verb Phrases

  1. slip away,
    1. to depart quietly or unobtrusively; steal off.
    2. to recede; slowly vanish: All those facts I had memorized just slipped away.
  2. slip up, to make an error; fail: I slipped up and put the letter in the wrong envelope.
  1. give someone the slip, to elude a pursuer; escape: The murderer gave the police the slip.
  2. let slip, to reveal unintentionally: to let slip the truth.
  3. slip a cog. cog1(def 6).
  4. slip between the cracks. crack(def 53).
  5. slip someone’s mind, to be forgotten: I was supposed to phone, but it slipped my mind.
  6. slip something over on, to deceive; defraud; trick.Also slip one over on.

verb slips, slipping or slipped

  1. to move or cause to move smoothly and easily
  2. (tr) to place, insert, or convey quickly or stealthily
  3. (tr) to put on or take off easily or quicklyto slip on a sweater
  4. (intr) to lose balance and slide unexpectedlyhe slipped on the ice
  5. to let loose or be let loose
  6. to be released from (something); escape
  7. (tr) to let go (mooring or anchor lines) over the side
  8. (when intr, often foll by from or out of) to pass out of (the mind or memory)
  9. (tr) to overlook, neglect, or missto slip an opportunity
  10. (intr) to move or pass swiftly or unperceivedto slip quietly out of the room
  11. (intr sometimes foll by up) to make a mistake
  12. Also: sideslip to cause (an aircraft) to slide sideways or (of an aircraft) to slide sideways
  13. (intr) to decline in health, mental ability, etc
  14. (intr) (of an intervertebral disc) to become displaced from the normal position
  15. (tr) to dislocate (a bone)
  16. (of animals) to give birth to (offspring) prematurely
  17. (tr) to pass (a stitch) from one needle to another without knitting it
    1. (tr)to operate (the clutch of a motor vehicle) so that it partially disengages
    2. (intr)(of the clutch of a motor vehicle) to fail to engage, esp as a result of wear
  18. let slip
    1. to allow to escape
    2. to say unintentionally
  19. slip one over on slang to hoodwink or trick


  1. the act or an instance of slipping
  2. a mistake or oversighta slip of the pen
  3. a moral lapse or failing
  4. a woman’s sleeveless undergarment, worn as a lining for and to give support to a dress
  5. US and Canadian a narrow space between two piers in which vessels may dock
  6. See slipway
  7. a kind of dog lead that allows for the quick release of the dog
  8. a small block of hard steel of known thickness used for measurement, usually forming one of a set
  9. the ratio between output speed and input speed of a transmission device when subtracted from unity, esp of a drive belt or clutch that is not transmitting full power
  10. cricket
    1. the position of the fielder who stands a little way behind and to the offside of the wicketkeeper
    2. the fielder himself
  11. the relative movement of rocks along a fault plane
  12. a landslide, esp one blocking a road or railway line
  13. metallurgy crystallog the deformation of a metallic crystal caused when one part glides over another part along a plane
  14. the deviation of a propeller from its helical path through a fluid, expressed as the difference between its actual forward motion and its theoretical forward motion in one revolution
  15. another name for sideslip (def. 1)
  16. give someone the slip to elude or escape from someone


  1. a narrow piece; strip
  2. a small piece of papera receipt slip
  3. a part of a plant that, when detached from the parent, will grow into a new plant; cutting; scion
  4. a young slender persona slip of a child
  5. dialect a young pig
  6. printing
    1. a long galley
    2. a less common name for a galley proof
  7. mainly US a pew or similar long narrow seat
  8. a small piece of abrasive material of tapering section used in honing

verb slips, slipping or slipped

  1. (tr) to detach (portions of stem, etc) from (a plant) for propagation


  1. clay mixed with water to a creamy consistency, used for decorating or patching a ceramic piece

early 14c., “to escape, to move softly and quickly,” from an unrecorded Old English word or cognate Middle Low German slippen “to glide, slide,” from Proto-Germanic *slipan (cf. Old High German slifan, Middle Dutch slippen, German schleifen “to glide, slide”), from PIE *sleib-, from root *(s)lei- “slimy, sticky, slippery” (see slime (n.)).

From mid-14c. with senses “lose one’s footing,” “slide out of place,” “fall into error or fault.” Sense of “pass unguarded or untaken” is from mid-15c. That of “slide, glide” is from 1520s. Transitive sense from 1510s; meaning “insert surreptitiously” is from 1680s. Related: Slipped; slipping. To slip up “make a mistake” is from 1855; to slip through the net “evade detection” is from 1902.


mid-15c., “edge of a garment;” 1550s, “narrow strip,” probably from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch slippe “cut, slit,” possibly related to Old English toslifan “to split, cleave.” Sense of “narrow piece of paper” (e.g. pink slip) in 1680s.


in various senses from slip (v.). Meaning “act of slipping” is from 1590s. Meaning “mistake, minor fault, blunder” is from 1610s. Sense of “woman’s sleeveless garment” (1761) is from notion of something easily slipped on or off (cf. sleeve). To give (someone) the slip “escape from” is from 1560s. Meaning “landing place for ships” is mid-15c.; more technical sense in ship-building is from 1769. Slip of the tongue (1725) is from earlier slip of the pen (1650s), which makes more sense as an image.


“potter’s clay,” mid-15c., “mud, slime,” from Old English slypa, slyppe “slime, paste, pulp, soft semi-liquid mass,” related to slupan “to slip” (see sleeve).


“sprig or twig for planting or grafting, small shoot,” late 15c., of uncertain origin. Cf. Middle Dutch slippe, German schlippe, schlipfe “cut, slit, strip.” Hence “young person of small build” (1580s, e.g. a slip of a girl); see slip (n.1).

In addition to the idioms beginning with slip

  • slip a cog
  • slip of the lip
  • slip one’s mind
  • slip out
  • slip something over on
  • slip through one’s fingers
  • slip up

also see:

  • give the slip
  • let slip

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