Where does the word “Slowpoke” come from and What does Slowpoke mean?

Of the many different meanings for the word poke, one, an Americanism dating to about 1860, is “a lazy person, a dawdler.”

The origin of this meaning is easily traced to the British use of the verb to poke, “to potter.” But there is no indication of the reason for Jane Austen’s use of the verb with this sense, for it was she, in Sense and Sensibility, who is the earliest on record with this meaning.

But it must have been an American who first became discouraged with the extreme laziness of some poke of his acquaintance, and who coined the term to describe one who was the epitome of dawdlers, a slowpoke.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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