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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.
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.
slope away from (something)
1. To recede from something at a downward angle. Our driveway slopes away from the house, so you've got to be careful to always have your handbrake on when you park your car out front. Tell the landscapers to make sure that the grass slopes away from the center of the field. That way, rainwater will naturally drain off into the gutters and we won't be left with big muddy patches.
2. To cause or construct something to recede from something at a downward angle. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "slope" and "down." I want to slope the floor of the stables away from the horses' stalls so water won't collect beneath them when we bathe them. The builder obviously wasn't paying attention, because he ended up sloping the bookshelf away from the wall.
1. To slant toward or recede from something at a downward angle. The field slopes down from the mansion at the top, forming something of shallow basin below. The driveway slopes down to the main road at a sharp angle, so you've got to be careful to always have your handbrake on when you park your car out there.
2. To cause or construct something to slant toward or recede from something at a downward angle. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "slope" and "down." Tell the landscapers to slope the grass down to the road to help rainwater naturally drain off into the gutters. Whoever built this bookshelf obviously wasn't paying attention, because they sloped all the shelves slope down from the back of it, so things keep rolling off and breaking on the ground!
slope toward (something)
1. To slant in the direction of something at a downward angle. If your driveway slopes toward the front of your house, you could face major flooding issues if you don't have a drainage solution in place. The cabin is stunning, with a front lawn that slopes right down toward the lake.
2. To cause or construct something to slant in the direction of something else at a downward angle. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "slope" and "toward." I want the landscapers to slope the field toward the river so rainwater will be naturally drained away. I made sure the floor of the workshop was made of concrete and sloped it toward the door to make cleaning as easy as possible.
1. To slant at an upward angle (to or toward something). It hasn't been too bad cycling to work for the most part, but the road slopes up near the end and I always end up drenched in sweat by the time I get to the office. We've got to make sure the sidewalk slopes up to the entrance of the building so people with mobility issues won't have any problems getting in. The field slopes up toward the base of the mountains, like a gentle invitation to a greater challenge.
2. To cause or construct something to have an upward slant (to or toward something). In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "slope" and "up." Whenever I'm building shelves, I always try to slope them up a tiny bit to help keep things from rolling off. I want to slope the driveway right up to our front door.
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.
slope away from something
to slant downward and away from something. The lawn sloped away from the patio toward the riverbank. The porch sloped away from the house at a very slight angle.
slope down (to something or some place)
to slant downward toward something or some place from a higher level. The wide white beach sloped down to the azure water. The yard sloped down, making a lovely view from the living room.
slope (down) toward something
to slant downward toward something. The backyard slopes down toward the river. It slopes toward the water.
slope up (to something)
to slant upward in the direction of something. The ramp sloped up to the door, allowing wheelchairs to enter. It sloped up rather steeply.
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]
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.
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 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