To slow-walk is an idiomatic verb with a meaning similar to the idiom ‘drag your feet.’

To drag your (or one’s) feet means to procrastinate; to dawdle; to do something very slow or without enthusiasm or urgency, mostly because you do not want to do it.

Slow-walk is similar but it tends to be used in political or business circumstances, and while a person may drag their feet, to slow-walk takes an object. Something is being slow-walked.

Meaning of Idiom ‘Slow-Walk’

To slow-walk something, such as a request or command, means to deliberately delay implementing it; to intentionally delay or prevent something from progressing such as by obstructing it, or needlessly prolonging the process.

In the United States, the two major parties, Republicans and Democrats, have an adversarial relationship and one side often accuses the other of slow-walking an important piece of legislation, an investigation, confirmation, etc.

Sometimes, in the state of North Carolina, to slow-walk is used with a different meaning: to chastise or punish. This usage is presumably regional and therefore rare.

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Examples Of Use

“They are slow-walking the confirmation of new cabinet members, seeking to undermine the new president’s ability to get anything done.”

“The FDA was recently accused of slow-walking the development of vaccines and therapeutics for Covid-19.”

“I filed a complaint but they are slow-walking it. They probably think I’ll give up eventually.”

“The committee slow-walked the negotiations for a new finance bill, hoping to force a government shut-down when time ran out.”


This idiom has been used since at least 1973, originally in Southern dialects such as Tennessee. One theory states that it alludes to the walking-gait of a Tennessee Walking Horse. This is usually called a ‘flat walk’ but is sometimes called a ‘slow walk.’

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