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A situation in which some behavior or action will eventually lead to a worse form of the same behavior or action, or a disastrous outcome. Eating that piece of cake is a slippery slope that could lead to you completely abandoning your diet. Verbal abuse is often a slippery slope that leads to physical abuse.
be as slippery as an eel
To be devious, scheming, and untrustworthy—and difficult to apprehend. Of course that guy took everyone's money and left town—he's as slippery as an eel!
on a slippery slope
In a situation in which some behavior or action will eventually lead to a worse form of the same behavior or action. We've been on a slippery slope of borrowing more money to pay off the debts we already owe. Activists fear that this latest legislation will put us on a slippery slope to stifling free speech.
(as) slippery as an eel
Devious, scheming, and untrustworthy—and difficult or impossible to apprehend or pin down. The notorious criminal has proven to be as slippery as an eel for police, eluding capture once again. Companies like this are slippery as eels, coming up with all sorts of elaborate means of getting around regulations.
1. A devious, scheming, and untrustworthy person, group, organization, etc. You're working for Brett Thompson? Watch out—that guy's a slippery customer. Companies like this are slippery customers, coming up with all sorts of elaborate means of getting around regulations.
2. Someone who is difficult or impossible to apprehend or pin down due to their cunning. The notorious criminal has proven to be a slippery customer for police, eluding capture once again.
3. Someone or something that is difficult or tricky to determine or define with certainty. Modern art is often a slippery customer because it defies the boundaries of what a lot of people consider "real" art. What some may consider utterly brilliant others will stare at and wonder why a seven-year-old couldn't have done better.
*slippery as an eel
devious and untrustworthy, but impossible to catch. (*Also: as ~.) Don't sign a lease with that landlord; I think he's as slippery as an eel. The con artist was slippery as an eel. Although he defrauded many people, he never went to prison.
1. Fig. a clever and deceitful customer. Watch out for that guy with the big padded coat. He may snatch something. He's a real slippery customer.
2. Fig. a slippery creature. This little fish is a slippery customer. Get me something to scoop it back into its bowl.
a dangerous pathway or route to follow; a route that leads to trouble. The matter of euthanasia is a slippery slope with both legal and moral considerations.
slippery as an eel
Elusive, devious, as in When it comes to talking about his investments, Jim's slippery as an eel. This simile, first recorded about 1412, alludes to the eel's skin, which has tiny scales and is quite slippery when wet.
A dangerous course, one that leads easily to catastrophe, as in He's on a slippery slope, compromising his values to please both the bosses and the union . This metaphoric expression alludes to traversing a slick hillside, in constant danger of falling. [Mid-1900s]
slippery as an eel
1. If someone is as slippery as an eel, they are difficult to catch or take hold of. When his opponent is on the attack, he is as slippery as an eel.
2. If someone is as slippery as an eel, they are clever and able to think quickly, but you cannot trust them. He was as clever as a fox and as slippery as an eel. Note: You can also describe someone as a slippery eel. He himself admits that he is regarded as a slippery eel — a man who constantly changes his mind.
a slippery slope
COMMON A slippery slope is a course of action which is likely to lead to failure or serious trouble. It's a slippery slope. You give in to one demand and soon find that you're doing exactly what they want. The company started down the slippery slope of believing that they knew better than the customer, with the inevitable disastrous results. Note: You can also say that someone is on a slippery slope or on the slippery slope. These young people may already be on the slippery slope to criminality.
slippery slopean idea or course of action which will lead inevitably to something unacceptable, wrong, or disastrous.
1998 Spectator Those of us who feared that devolution would not assuage nationalist sentiment but turn out to be the slippery slope to separatism have a good chance of being proved right.
(as) slippery as an ˈeel(informal) dishonest and good at not answering questions, etc: The man the police want to talk to is slippery as an eel, and has so far escaped arrest. OPPOSITE: (as) straight as a die (2)
the slippery ˈslopea situation or way of behaving that could quickly lead to danger, disaster, failure, etc: Starting with shoplifting, he was soon on the slippery slope towards a life of crime.
slippery as an eel
Hard to grasp; elusive, and, by extension, deceitful. The eel’s long slender body, with only minute scales deeply embedded in the skin, looks totally smooth and is very slippery when wet. These characteristics gave rise to the simile, which dates from the fourteenth century and is still used today. (See the quotation in slip through one's fingers.)
slippery slope, a
A dangerous path or situation leading to disaster. Alluding to a path down which one could slide to a bad fall, this figure of speech dates from the mid-1900s. The Daily Telegraph of January 6, 1964 stated, “While Western feet thus approach what some fear may be a slippery slope towards recognition of the East, Ulbricht’s ground seems as firm as ever it was.” In a New Yorker piece about writers chronicling Sherlock Holmes, one of them is quoted as saying, “I’ve now done . . . more than fifteen hundred pages and I’ve only gotten up to 1950. It’s been a slippery slope into madness and obsession” (Dec. 13, 2004).
See also: slippery