Slowly but surely

What’s the meaning of the phrase ‘Slowly but surely’?

Slowly, but most definitely.

What’s the origin of the phrase ‘Slowly but surely’?

The idea (but not necessarily the precise phrase) ‘Slowly but surely’ is an old one. For instance, in the famous Aesop’s fables, dating back to before the common era, there’s the tale of the tortoise and the hare who are racing. Everyone thinks that the hare will win the race, but the hare gets distracted, taking its time, because he’s so sure he’s going to win no matter what. Meanwhile however, the tortoise is focused and consistent, and slowly but surely wins the race.

That said, however, the precise phrase ‘Slowly but surely’ didn’t actually see recorded use until much later in the year 1562.

There’s also a similar phrase that means pretty much the same thing, which is ‘Slow and steady wins the race,’ epitomising the Aesop fable.

Alternative phrases you could use include: bit by bit, step by step, little by little, or gradually.

What are some notable uses of the phrase ‘Slowly but surely’?

The phrase ‘Slowly but surely’ is used far and wide, for everything from the likes of civil rights, women’s right to vote, learning and education, and medical research, through to the likes of health and fitness, personal development, business and economic growth, and more.

There have also been several songs with the title ‘Slowly but surely’. Namely, one released by Elvis Presley in 1961, one by Rufus Wainwright that came out in 1998, and one by Holly Golightly that came out in 2004. Holly Golightly also had an album with the same name.

Trend of slowly but surely in printed material over time

Cari Mayhew - Author at Phrase Finder

Cari Mayhew

Lifelong learner, phrase fanatic, and lover of literature across multiple genres. Cari Mayhew has a passion for expression, and a keen curiosity for how phrases begin and how their use transforms over time. She is often found looking for the ideal idiom to convey her thoughts and musings.