What does It Mean to "Slur Your Words"?

Dan Cavallari

Whenever your words run together and become unintelligible, it is said that you have begun to slur your words. This essentially means that your words are no longer forming distinctly; there are countless factors that may cause you to slur, some more serious than others. Slurred words may result from a speech impediment, such as a lisp, or as a result of some sort of artificial hindrance to speech, such as inebriation or partial sedation. For some, slurred words may also simply result from talking too quickly or excitedly.

Partial sedation may cause someone to slur his or her words.
Partial sedation may cause someone to slur his or her words.

Inebriation is a common cause that may induce you to slur your words. When your body takes on more alcohol than it can process at any given time, your faculties become slowed and uncoordinated. You may stumble, experience slower than normal thought processes, and yes, you may even speak strangely. In this case, your words will run into each other as a result of a loss of vocal coordination, causing indistinct speech. The drunken slur has often been ridiculed humorously and noted somberly in books, movies, and television, but it can also point to a much larger and more serious problem.

Children who slur their words may benefit from the services of a speech therapist.
Children who slur their words may benefit from the services of a speech therapist.

If you slur your words, you might also be experiencing a speech problem not caused by external stimuli such as alcohol or drugs. Many people, especially children, develop speech impediments, whether as a result of physical abnormalities, cognitive problems, or other natural developmental issues. If you slur as a result of a speech impediment, there may be methods to help in clarifying your speech. Consult a professional speech pathologist or other professional for more information.

You may also slur your words for a comedic, dramatic, or secretive effect. For example, one might slur his words under is breath so he might only be heard by someone very close by. This excludes other listeners from hearing any clear or distinct speech. It is not uncommon to hear slurred words in reference to being comedically drunk, nor is it uncommon to hear slurred words in reference to someone being dangerously or poignantly drunk. References to people slurring their words in books, music, or television can be cast in certain lights to convey meaning, even if the words themselves are unintelligible.

If you slur your words, you may also be talking in a colloquial manner. For example, the southern drawl can be considered slurred speech, as the speaker often extends certain word sounds past where they would normally be extended. The absence of certain letters – for example, excluding the letter R from words such as "arm" so that it sounds like "ahhm" – can be an example of slurring as well.

Consuming more alcohol than the body can tolerate may cause a person to slur their words.
Consuming more alcohol than the body can tolerate may cause a person to slur their words.

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Discussion Comments


Someone having a stroke may start slurring their words. This can be the most visible symptom of a serious situation.


Sunshine31-I know that the “Th” sound is also problematic as well as the final “R”. For example, if a person says, " Ca", for the word car, you might not be able to tell that that it what they meant to say.

Just like if the word was, “There” and you say dare it will not be clear. However, the proper tongue placement for the “Th” sound is a protruding tongue.

Sometimes when people slur their speech it is difficult to discern what they are saying because they lack proper articulation.


Suntan12-I agree. I know that a speech therapist will work with the child and give the parent a set of exercises in order to articulate the sound correctly.

If for example, the problematic sound was “S” the speech therapist would do a battery of tests to determine if any other sounds are inaudible.

He or she will attack one sound at a time and once it is master, the therapist will move on to the other sounds. For the letter “S” a speech therapist would provide home exercises that would include words that contain the “S” sound in various positions.

Sometimes the “S” will be in the beginning and other times it will be in the end or middle.


Anon32536- I don't know maybe your mind is thinking quicker than your mouth and that is why the wrong word comes out.

A slur also occurs when improper articulation takes place. When children mispronounce the letter “S” as a “Th” sound a lisp occurs. The improper tongue placement makes the word indiscernable.

The proper tongue placement for the letter “S” is inside the mouth with the teeth clenched. Often children have difficulty with this sound especially when they lose teeth. Most children master the sound by age 9.


Why do I occasionally speak the wrong word when I know the right word and am trying to speak the right word?

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