Daily Archives: January 4, 2023

slothe

I spent a week at my parents’ house over Christmas doing as little as possible. I went to slothe, and slothe I did.

No, that’s not a misspelling. Just as you bathe by going into a bath, or you clothe by putting on cloth, so too you slothe by engaging in sloth.

Not a word? Of course it is! I just used it and you just understood it. Just half a month ago, Iva Cheung declared “‘Slothe’ should be a word,” and in so doing made it so.

It’s a fun derivation, because sloth is itself already derived from slow (just as the state of being warm is warmth, the state of being slow is slowth, long since respelled as sloth). Now, for full disclosure, there is historical precedent for just using sloth as a verb meaning ‘to be lazy’, and English does have a grand (if often vituperated) tradition of zero-derivation – i.e., converting a word from one class to another without changing its form, the most remarked-on variety of which is commonly called verbing, which is what “Are you going to sloth all day?” does. But who said we can’t have fun with words, deriving new forms on the analogy of other forms?

I won’t say no one said it, because some people do say such things from time to time. But their opinions are no great matter; they’re just being intellectually indolent in the interests of preserving the comfort of their fixed worldview from the faded and stained armchair of their minds. There are better and worse ways to slothe, and I do not count the stodginess of the curmudgeon among the better.

No, if I am going to slothe, I wish my slothing to have at least the tinge of hedonism, and ideally some satisfaction of idle curiosity. I do not want to slothe in hoarded heaps of intellectual candy wrappers. I want to slothe by reading a book (specifically one for which I have no obligation), or cooking something fancy (I know that many people consider cooking an unpleasant chore, but I do not; I do it for recreation), or going for a walk with my camera (again, if walking is not pleasant for you, you will not see it as slothing, but perambulation is one of my favourite ways of squandering the hours). I like to slothe by having a leisurely breakfast with champagne. And, to mix it up, it is nice to slothe in hotels.

In response to Iva’s desideration of lexification of slothe, Karl Martin suggested “Beslothen.” I like that well too. When I am on vacation – be it in a hotel or at my parents’ home or wherever – I am well and truly beslothen. I pledge myself to leisure: I plight thee my sloth. And slothe it goes… slothe a heck down.