General English


  • adjective not going fast
  • verb to go less fast


  • adjective denoting a bowler, a ball, or a style of bowling characterised by a speed lower than that of a medium-pace bowler, roughly in the range 45 mph/75 kph to 55 mph/90 kph; ‘slow’ is one of the three basic types according to which bowlers are conventionally categorised (the other two being fast and medium-pace) and bowlers of this type rely on flight, turn, accuracy, and deception, rather than on speed through the air
    Citation ‘The gradation of a day’s cricket, begun with new ball thrills as athletic fast bowlers operate and continued as the slow men take over, knows no parallel in terms of entertainment value’ (Frith 1984)
    Citation ‘Gayle claimed the last four wickets to finish with five for 91 – a part-time slow bowler cleaning up the opposition at this former fast-bowling haven’ (Fazeer Mohammed, Wisden 2006)
  • adjective (of the wicket) providing conditions that are unhelpful to the faster bowlers, in that the ball is likely to lose pace and life after pitching; a ‘slow’ pitch will often also assist the spin bowlers
    Citation ‘Thorpe … played his best innings of the tour, a composed 86 notable for the precision of his pulling whenever the West Indies dropped short on a pitch that became both slower and more unreliable as the game progressed’ (Vic Marks, Cricketer May 1994)
  • noun a slow ball or slow bowler
    Citation ‘At last Parr went on at Stephenson’s end, and it was soon found that the Canadians were not up to the slows, for Parr made sad work with them’ (Lillywhite 1860)
    Citation ‘There is a golden rule to be carefully remembered in playing slows, and that is, never to run out to a ball that is well outside the off stump’ (Badminton 1888)


  • adjective used for describing a surface that tends to reduce the speed or ability to travel of a ball, runner or other competitor

Origin & History of “slow”

The etymological notion underlying slow is ‘dullness, sluggishness’; ‘lack of speed’ is a secondary development. The word goes back to a prehistoric Germanic *slæwaz, which also produced Swedish slö and Danish sløv ‘dull, blunt’. The original idea of ‘sluggishness’ is better preserved in the derivative sloth (12th c.) (etymologically ‘slow-ness’).