What is “Slippery?”

One of the most common tactile metaphors we encounter daily on a subconscious and cultural level is the idea of something “slippery.” For us, I think “slippery” denotes an almost evil omen; it is that which is difficult to grasp and can slip through our mind or our fingers. This lack of control engenders a sense of fear or dread in many of us. Moreover, the sense of fear something “slippery” may produce may be caused by the lack of uncertainty about the thing or the individual in question. Whichever the case may be, I thing “slippery” has its roots in ancient times.

For those who believe in the Bible, the “concept” of slippery is introduced as early as the book of Genesis. In Genesis, God produces Adam and Eve and allows them to dwell in the Garden of Eden so long as they do not eat from the Tree of Life. Satan takes on the form of a serpent and tempts Eve to eat from the Tree of Life. Subsequently, Eve convinces Adam to eat from the Tree of Life. Thus, sin is introduced into the world, and God banishes Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. How does this brief history relate to “slippery?” Serpents or snakes are usually associated with being slippery to the touch or able to slip through and glide along one’s fingers. Furthermore, in this case, there is a degree of uncertainty or doubt as to Satan’s character and credibility as this story depicts his first meeting of human beings. Satan is a “slippery” being to the naïve Eve.

Another instance of “slippery” that comes to mind is Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “A Cask of Amontillado.” In the story, Montresor is seeking revenge on his friend Fortunato. During a carnival, Montresor dismisses all his servants and invites Fortunato over to give his expertise on some amontillado, wine, that Montresor has stored in his cellars down in the of his estate catacombs. In the end, Montresor seals Fortunato in a crevice and leaves Fortunato to die. Throughout the journey to thee cellars, Poe goes into great detail describing the catacombs as cool with walls moist and slippery to the touch. By doing this, Poe does an excellent job foreshadowing future events and creating a sense of fear or dread in the audience.

Although there are many other examples of “slippery” and metaphorical meaning of the term, the things I have discussed I have found to be the true for myself. Tactile sensation and interpretation is really dependent upon the individual when it comes down to it.

3 thoughts on “What is “Slippery?”

  1. I agree with what you’re saying 300%. Whenever I hear “slippery”, I get the heebbie-jeebbies. I like how you tied the word to the bible, it really resonated deep within me. Words that have a connection to religious stories, like “slippery” from the snake at the Adam and Eve story, usually tend to have a stronger meaning, rather than just what they mean. I wonder if the word slippery also has this connection in other languages? I think they might, especially due to the religious connection. Also, I enjoyed how you gave two references as examples. It shows how you really put so much thought into this blog. Good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a very intriguing article, especially because the two stories you selected have not only made the illustrations more interesting, but have also somehow materialized the word ‘slippery’, by providing the images of Satan and catacombs. Before reading this article the first picture I would generate in mind when I heard ‘slippery’ would have been a sly and fast-moving snake, similar to your first example. And now I also would think about uncertainty. For me, this word could also represent (somehow like uncertainty), things that are hard to handle or concepts that are elusive. I enjoyed reading this and think you did a great job.


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