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Posted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:13 pm
by Dr. Goodword

• slovenly •

Pronunciation: slê-vên-li • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, adverb

Meaning: 1. Messy, unkempt, dirty, sloppy . 2. Careless, slipshod, sloppy, as 'slovenly writing style'.

Notes: This adjective seems to be based on the noun, sloven, which still refers to a lout, rogue, a dirty, untidy person of disreputable character. Slovenly serves as an adverb, as do most adjectives ending with the suffix -ly, as 'to dress slovenly'. It comes with a noun, slovenliness; look out for the shift of Y to I before -ness.

In Play: In the literal sense today's Good Word may be used thus: "Maude Lynn Dresser is a slovenly housekeeper who doesn't know what a dust cloth or vacuum cleaner is." It is frequently used figuratively, though: "The president has surrounded himself with a coterie of slovenly thinkers."

Word History: This word probably originates in some Germanic source, compare Middle Flemish sloovin "a scold" and sloef "untidy, shabby", Dutch sloffen "to shuffle, dodder", and Middle Low German sloven "to put on clothes carelessly". These words come from PIE sleubh- "to slide, slip". In fact, English slip and slop, whence sloppy, come from the same source. The English name of the ship, sloop, was borrowed from the Dutch slupen "to glide", which is what the Dutch made of the same original PIE word. Latin made lubricus "slippery" from the same root without the Fickle S. Another interpretation is that it began as a racial slur, based on Slovene, like slave, which undoubtedly comes from Slav, reflecting the Western European centuries old prejudice against Central Europeans. (Today's Good Word comes from David Myer's very, very unslovenly vocabulary.)

Re: Slovenly

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:12 pm
by misterdoe
I was actually thinking "I wonder what English-speaking Slovenes think of this word." :?

Re: Slovenly

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:32 am
by tkowal
Have a look at the discussion of slavic: ... ave#p43469

Re: Slovenly

Posted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:38 pm
by Perry Lassiter
My high school English teacher owned apage or two from the dictionary begining wigh SL. She would get on a spirited and sprayful rant against certain boys in her classes whom she referred to as "slothful, slovenly, sleezy..." I chose the back row to avoid inundations.