slake » slack

Chiefly in:   slack (one's) thirst

Classification: English – questionable

Spotted in the wild:

  • “Slacking thirst… Regularly hydrate yourself. Sip water between sets, aiming to drink at least one glass every fifteen minutes you are training. …” (link)
  • “Forget about the lovely ales they brewed in London until last summer. Goodbye, Britannia. I shall seek out other places to slack my thirst! …” (link)
  • “Just like the hat to keep the sun off, the dark glasses to reduce the glare, the sunblock to stop you burning, the drink to slack your thirst, you will fit …” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Phil Cleary (American Dialect Society mailing list, 19 May 2007)

Cleary’s original report: BBC America’s print and online catalogues contain the following blurb for the Guinness Toucan T-shirt: “Dublin’s most famous brewery has been slacking thirsts for more than 175 years….”

I replied on ADS-L at the time: The problem is that the OED has the verb “slack” ‘to slake (one’s thirst)’ from 1631 on, and that transitive “slack” ‘reduce, diminish’
would make sense with the object “thirst”. And in fact “slack” and “slake” are developments from the same OE verb. So this isn’t a very clear case. I suspect that the idiom “slake one’s thirst” has been eggcorned more than once to “slack” (using a much more common word), but it’s hard to verify this.

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2007/10/21 |

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