Slack vs slake

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Slack and slake are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and may be considered confusables. We will examine the different meanings of the confusables slack and slake, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Slack means loose or not taut; inactive or lazy; slow or quiet. The word slack is used as an adjective, noun, or transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. For instance, a rope may be slack (adjective), one may take up the slack on a rope, (noun), or one may slack off on the rope (verb). The word slack is derived from the Old English word, slæc, which means sluggish, gentle, or remiss. Related words are slacks, slacked, slacking, slacken, slacker.

Slake means to quench one’s thirst, either literally or figuratively. Slake may mean to satisfy one’s yearnings. The word slake is a transitive verb; related words are slakes, slaked, slaking. Slake is derived from the Old English word, slacian, meaning to become not as eager or to diminish.


If the largest buyer in any market backs away, there’s a new price equilibrium discovered by that market, as it hopes for a new buyer to take up the slack. (Forbes)

“Waves have started to slack off and weaken.” (Register-Guard)

Business being light, our hardy entrepreneurs took it upon themselves to rove up and down the street, hoping to convince random neighbors to slake their thirst. (Columbus Dispatch)

Outside in the streets of Bungendore, there’s a thirst for quasi-normality poised to be slaked. (Canberra Times)