Patrick O'Brian Discussion Forum

Re: Slope away


On Mon Apr 10, Max wrote
>I'm reading a Nick Hornsby book.
>One character repeatedly uses the phrase "slope away".
>My recollection is that Jack takes issue with Stephens use of the term.
>Is it commonly used in the U.K.?  

No. Nor is it found in the OED. Thias is the sense, I suppose:

‘slo e, v.2 Old English
Originally U.S.; perhaps formed by wrong analysis of let's lope . . colloq.
a. intr. To make off, depart, decamp.
1839 F. Marryat Diary in Amer. II. 232 Here are two real American words:—‘Sloping’—for slinking away . .

b. With advs., esp. off. Also, to move (off, in, etc.) in a leisurely manner; to amble (in, etc.); to depart surreptitiously, sneak off.
1851 M. Reid Rifle Rangers vi. 50 We can't go on to Washington—what can we do but slope home again? . .

2. trans. To leave (lodgings) without paying.
In the sense of ‘cheat, trick’, slope is recorded in dialect use from 1828 onwards.
1908 Reminis. Stonemason 100 They had ‘sloped’ their lodgings.’

Jack no doubt regarded it as vulgar slang.

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