Sloe - slow

From Hull AWE
Jump to: navigation, search

Sloe and slow form one of the sets of homophones listed by the then Poet Laureate Robert Bridges.
(For more, see Bridges homophones). AWE has a category listing our articles on each of these.. Both rhyme with 'go' and 'no'. In both, the final letter is silent.

  • Sloe is a noun. It is the name of a fruit, the small blue-black drupe of the blackthorn (Prunus spinosa). It has been called a 'wild plum', prunelle in French. It has a sharp, sour taste, and is rarely eaten as a raw fruit: its main use is to be steeped in gin or vodka to make a pleasing liqueur (sloe gin) appreciated as an aperitif.
  • Slow is an adjective and a verb, and is occasionally used as other word classes.
    • As an adjective (the oldest recorded word class), slow is the opposite of 'fast' or 'quick'.
      • It may mean 'not quick of mind', 'stupid' (this is the earliest recorded meaning). This developed into
      • 'disinclined to be active', 'slothful' or 'idle'; 'sluggardly', and therefore "Not quick, ready, prompt, or willing to do something" (OED 1912, meaning 3. a.). So it became an adjective to describe something that took longer to accomplish than expected.
      • So its specific uses in terms of fires and cookers, etc., (~ 'gentle', 'not hot') are explicable in terms of taking longer to achieve cooking, etc.; a slow puncture is one in which it takes a long time for the tyre to deflate; in medical contexts, a slow pulse is one which beats less frequently than normal, a slow disease (often a fever) is one which develops gradually; in scientific and technological contexts, it may indicatre a number of possibilities (the slow lane is the part of a motorway in which cars do not overtake; a slow clock is one whose retarded mechanism indicates a time behind the accurate one; a slow reactor is an atomic pile which does not explode spontaneouisly; and so on); and in music and dance, slow indicates a relaxed or less frenetic tempo.
        • Figuratively , in a usage that you are advised to avoid because of its prejudicial connotations, a slow learner is a student less ready or able to learn than the norm. In US usage, such a student may be named, in a similar image, 'a retard'.
    • The verb 'to slow' means 'to do something (e.g. travel) with less speed', or 'to delay', 'retard' some action. Intransitively it is often used with the particle down, or, paradoxically, up.
    • The (fairly rare) noun 'a slow' is usually a substantive use of one of the above adjectival meanings. It is used in various sports to indicate specific roles, such as a slow bowler in cricket (one whose skill lies in deceiving the batsman by spinning the ball and so on rather than by the speed of the delivery).
      • A slow handclap is applause delivered very rhythmically and at a slow rate, used to express (ironic) disapproval
      • Slow motion is a technique in motion photography where, by showing the film at a rate of many frames fewer per second than the rate at which the film was taken, the movement may be better analyzed.
There is no etymological connection with the name slow-worm of a lizard.