slough [slaʊ for 1 and 2, slu for 3] n.
1.) A piece of soft, miry, or muddy ground; esp. a place or hole in a road or way filled with wet mud or mire and impassable by heavy vehicles, horses, etc.
2.) A state or condition (esp. of moral degradation) in which a person, etc., sinks or has sunk.
3.) (Also slew) a side channel of a river, or a natural channel that is only sporadically filled with water (Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition).
Etymology: Old English slóh (sló), of doubtful origin; perhaps ultimately related to slonk.
"It is very evident what mean and sneaking lives many of you live, for my sight has been whetted by experience; always on the limits, trying to get into business and trying to get out of debt, a very ancient slough, called by the Latins aes alienum, another's brass, for some of their coins were made of brass; still living, and dying, and buried by this other's brass; always promising to pay, promising to pay, tomorrow, and dying today, insolvent; seeking to curry favor, to get custom, by how many modes, only not state-prison offenses; lying, flattering, voting, contracting yourselves into a nutshell of civility or dilating into an atmosphere of thin and vaporous generosity, that you may persuade your neighbor to let you make his shoes, or his hat, or his coat, or his carriage, or import his groceries for him; making yourselves sick, that you may lay up something against a sick day, something to be tucked away in an old chest, or in a stocking behind the plastering, or, more safely, in the brick bank; no matter where, no matter how much or how little" (Walden, Henry David Thoreau, 1854).
I've provided audio for the pronunciation of yesterday's word, a fortiori, for those who were interested (it's not me this time, because I'm unable to record at the moment). A simpler example of an a fortiori argument is something like: Bin Laden is dead, thus a fortiori he can't walk. Since he's dead, he can't do anything, so this "stronger" premise establishes a fortiori any number of "weaker" ones: he can't breathe, he can't sing, he can't dance, etc. Let me know if that clarifies things. Thanks for your interest and for keeping me honest!