In Life (2017) movie, the ISS Crew sends Katrina into space to fix the communication to get back earth online. So the crew reminds her these lines:

David: What is it you say? "Slow is fast", right?

Katrina: Yeah. Slow to go fast.

David: Yeah. Well, that's out the window.

  • 1
    A variation I use a lot is "Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast". Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 14:37

2 Answers 2


It's a translation of an old Latin tag, festina lente, "hurry slowly". It means that trying to do things too fast often means you waste time going back to correct your mistakes: the fastest way of accomplishing something is to work carefully and methodically.

  • another saying: "more haste less speed". Also the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare
    – James K
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 7:43
  • In spanish we say: "Vísteme despacio que tengo prisa" -> Literally translated to "You dress me slowly that I'm in a hurry"
    – Trimax
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 9:40
  • Isn’t ‘hasten slowly’ more common than ‘hurry slowly’? I don’t recall ever hearing the latter before… (Since we’re giving examples from other languages, the most common Danish one is hastværk er lastværk ‘hasty work is shoddy work’—or more fittingly rhyming: haste makes waste.) Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 16:26
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Hasten is certainly traditional, but I think hurry is more colloquial today. Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 16:41

This phrase sounds paradoxical, like it could not possibly be true, but it is good advice in many situations.

I have found the phrase is easier to work with if you use another version of it. Military special forces have a phrasing, "Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast." If you can work smoothly, the work tends to go faster. If you watch an expert at a job that involves working with one's hands (gardener, blacksmith, potter), their movements are always smooth. By being smooth, they don't have to waste as much time correcting mistakes. The best way to be smooth is to take it slow and not rush yourself.

Those mistakes also add up very quickly in space, so the phrase is even more important up there. It reminds me of another quote, this one by Chris Hatfeld, who was one of the astronauts who worked onboard the real ISS:

Astronauts have a saying, "In space, there is no problem so bad that you cannot make it worse."

I think he'd be a big fan of moving smoothly.

  • 1
    "This phrase is a rather famous phrase in English." I've actually never heard it before, and lived in the US my entire life.
    – Andy
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 17:34
  • @Andy interesting. I had heard it all my life, but a quick ngram search suggests you are right. It's not as famous as I thought! I may have to edit that part
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 17:43
  • Maybe's is regional; i've been in the NE.
    – Andy
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 17:44

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