Strategically reducing the speed of waves, which greatly improves both the energy density and information capacity of carrier signals in space, is a key enabling factor for signal-processing devices. Among these devices, especially in the prosperous wireless communication industry, surface acoustic wave (SAW) devices based on interdigital transducers (IDTs) currently hold an essential status. However, velocity reduction in traditional IDT-based SAW devices can be achieved only by using specific substrate materials that are generally of lower hardness, which inevitably leads to an increase in device size and less-optimal electromechanical coupling coefficients. Here, we demonstrate a technological means of realizing slow on-chip SAWs that is relevant for practical rf signal processing, gyrometers, sensing, and transduction. This method takes advantage of the gradual flattening of a Rayleigh-type dispersion band due to the spatial lattice evolution of a surface phononic crystal. In our experiment, the speed of an ultraslow SAW is measured to be approximately 200 m/s, which is even slower than the speed of sound in air and equivalent to 1/17.4 of the speed of the original Rayleigh waves in Li Nb O3. Such ultraslow SAWs may have promising applications in time-dependent SAW modulation, high-sensitivity SAW sensors, and SAW nonlinear even quantum-dynamic systems. Additionally, our technique can be similarly applied to a broad range of other two-dimensional or quasi-two-dimensional wave structures, e.g., in electronic, optical, acoustic, and thermal systems.