Sloth Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

Wondering what it means when someone calls you a sloth? We can help! Read on to discover all there is to know about the meaning of sloth.

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When you hear the word sloth, you probably think of the adorable tree-dwelling mammal known for its unbelievably slow stride. Did you know it also refers to one of the seven deadly sins? It’s true — and we’ll tell you all about it!

Read on to discover everything you need to know about the term sloth, including its many definitions and more. 

What Is the Definition of Sloth?

According to the Macmillan Dictionary, sloth refers to an animal that lives in trees in Central and South America and moves very slowly. 

A member of the genus Bradypus (three-toed sloth) or Choloepus didactylus (two-toed sloth), these slow-moving mammals have an extremely low metabolic rate, which is why they move at a languid, sluggish pace through the treetops. 

On average, a sloth will travel up to 41 yards per day — AKA, less than half the length of a football field. 

In addition to being the name of the slowest land mammal on the planet, the word sloth can be an insult to call someone lazy or slow. Sloth is also one of the seven capital sins in Christianity. 

What Are the Seven Deadly Sins?

Also called the seven cardinal sins, the seven deadly sins refer to a grouping of vices within Roman Catholic theology. Ironically, the seven deadly sins don’t appear in the Bible. However, these vices do get mentioned amply throughout the religious text. 

The capital vices are as follows: 

  • Pride or vanity is an excessive belief in one’s own abilities interferes with the recognition of the grace of God. 
  • Greed is the desire for material wealth or gain. 
  • Lust is an intense craving for the pleasures of the body. 
  • Envy is the desire for another person’s abilities, status, traits, or situation. 
  • Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one needs. 
  • Wrath or anger is a strong hatred towards another individual. 
  • Sloth is excessive laziness or the failure to act and utilize one’s own talents.

In short, our word of the day can refer to a sweet tree-dwelling mammal or one of the seven capital sins that represent the desire for ease, even at the expense of doing the known will of God. 

You see, whatever you do in life takes effort. A slothful person, however, prefers to spend their days as a couch potato.

What Is the Etymology of Sloth?

Believe it or not, our word of the day was first coined in the 12th century and is a translation of the Latin term acedia. This noun meaning sluggishness or indolence was used to replace the Old English slæwð and slǣwth. Additionally, the term sloth was formed from Middle English slowe and slou.

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Sloth?

To better assist you on your journey to learn all there is to know about our word of the day, we have provided a list of synonyms and antonyms provided by Power Thesaurus:

Synonyms include:

  • Disinclination 
  • Indolence
  • Sin 
  • Lazy bum
  • Shiftlessness
  • Good for nothing
  • Sluggishness 
  • Laziness
  • Lethargy 
  • Acedia 
  • Listlessness 
  • Earth pig
  • Clockwatcher
  • Slowness 
  • Lax
  • Languor 
  • Edentate 
  • Ant bear
  • Lack of effort
  • Time waster 
  • Do-nothingness 
  • Wearie willie

Antonyms include: 

  • Preparedness 
  • Ambition 
  • Alacrity 
  • Doer 
  • Pep 
  • Get up and go
  • Discipline
  • Go-getter
  • Excitement 
  • Workaholic 
  • Drive
  • Hard work
  • Hustle 
  • Go ahead 
  • Self-starter 

How Can You Use Sloth in a Sentence?

Now that you understand what sloth means, it’s time to practice using the term in a sentence. To get you started, we’ve put together a list of example sentences for you to review below:

What I thought was a group of bears was actually a small gathering of sloths!

I saw a ton of ground sloths in Central America last year.

The adorable sloth gave us a cheeky grin as we said our goodbyes and left the zoo.

Todd called Sam a sloth because he was moving super slowly.

Of all the seven deadly sins, sloth is the most difficult to define because it’s a generally unconscious sin. 

She said her lack of motivation lately has made her feel like a sloth.

Did you know that the sloth is the slowest-moving mammal in the animal kingdom?

I read in an English dictionary that the word sloth comes from slouthe meaning laziness.

My favorite character in the anime called The Seven Deadly Sins is the sloth named Harlequin.

What Are Translations of Sloth?

Before we wrap up our guide on the term sloth, we’ve gathered a quick list of translations for you to reference on your travels. 

Translations of sloth are as follows:

  • Chinese — 树懒
  • Hindi — सुस्ती
  • Russian — ленивец
  • Spanish — la pereza
  • Arabic — كسل
  • Bengali — আলস্য
  • French — paresse
  • Portuguese — preguiça 
  • German — Faulheit
  • Japanese — ナマケモノ
  • Korean — 나무 늘보
  • Vietnamese — tánh lười biếng
  • Marathi — आळशीपणा
  • Italian — bradipo
  • Polish — lenistwo
  • Ukrainian — лінивець
  • Greek — νωθρότητα


Whether you are referring to the seven deadly sins and the Catholic Church, the tree-dwelling, slow-moving mammal, or your lazybones brother, the term sloth is an appropriate choice of words. 


  1. Sloth synonyms – 621 Words and Phrases for Sloth | Power Thesaurus
  2. Why are sloths slow? And six other sloth facts Stories | WWF
  3. Sloth (noun) definition and synonyms | Macmillan Dictionary