\ ˈskəm How to pronounce scum (audio) \

Definition of scum

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : extraneous matter or impurities risen to or formed on the surface of a liquid often as a foul filmy covering — compare pond scum sense 2
b : the scoria of metals in a molten state : dross
c : a slimy film on a solid or gelatinous object
2a : refuse
b : a low, vile, or worthless person or group of people


scummed; scumming

Definition of scum (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to become covered with or as if with scum

Other Words from scum


scummy \ ˈskə-​mē How to pronounce scum (audio) \ adjective

Examples of scum in a Sentence

Noun Boil the chicken and use a spoon to remove any scum that floats to the surface. claimed that only scum lived in that part of town
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Oregon Health Authority recommends that people keep an eye out for visible signs of bloom in other areas of the river and stay out of the water in locations with visible scum. oregonlive, 27 Aug. 2022 Maybe there’s a ring of residue in the tub, signs of mold or mildew on the tile or grout, pinkish scum on the shower curtain or slimy stuff on the rubber bathmat. Washington Post, 13 Oct. 2021 Rinse to wash away germs, mold, water spots, and soap scum. Caitlin Sole, Better Homes & Gardens, 26 Aug. 2022 This little toughie in Scotch-Brite’s classic wavy shape was comfortable to hold and cleaned everything from grimy cookware to bathroom soap scum with ease and without scratching. Jodhaira Rodriguez, Good Housekeeping, 16 Aug. 2022 Warm water, sunlight and nutrients can cause blue-green algae to reproduce quickly, or bloom, causing clear water to turn into thick, green scum. Caitlin Looby, Journal Sentinel, 12 Aug. 2022 Bits of litter floated atop scum on a pond where people used to kayak and fish. New York Times, 28 May 2022 There, solids gradually settle out and form a layer of sludge on the bottom, and grease floats to the top, forming a scum layer. Jeanne Huber, Washington Post, 15 Aug. 2022 He’s been swung at in Cabot, Arkansas; arrested in Dimmitt, Texas; called scum in more than forty states. Tad Friend, The New Yorker, 1 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Lieberman is the scummiest scumbag who ever scummed. Jim Newell, Slate Magazine, 18 May 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of scum


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1661, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for scum


Middle English, from Middle Dutch schum; akin to Old High German scūm foam

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Time Traveler for scum

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The first known use of scum was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

10 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Scum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for scum


\ ˈskəm How to pronounce scum (audio) \

Kids Definition of scum

1 : a film of matter that rises to the top of a boiling or fermenting liquid
2 : a coating (as of algae) on the surface of still water
3 : a loathsome person

More from Merriam-Webster on scum

Nglish: Translation of scum for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scum for Arabic Speakers


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