\ˈskəm \

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

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Other Words from scum


scummy \ˈskə-​mē \ adjective

Examples of scum in a Sentence


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

Each man has accused the other of failing to tackle the red-tide calamity and the simultaneous bloom of a different type of algae that is clogging rivers and canals and putting a scum on top of Lake Okeechobee. Kate Furby, The Seattle Times, "Red tide algae’s deadly toll on sea life has triggered a state of emergency in Florida," 14 Aug. 2018 The same thing happens with cappuccino foam, tea scum, and a powder floating on the surface, like cinnamon, under the right circumstances. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Swirling your wine is not pretentious; it’s just good physics," 25 Aug. 2018 For best results, rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth, which will help prevent soap scum. Elle Decor Staff, ELLE Decor, "How to Keep a Clean Kitchen," 28 Sep. 2011 Oh and at the same time hiring a scum of a human in Keith Olbermann. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "Here is a list of people who have come to Roseanne Barr's defense," 30 May 2018 When June returns to the Waterfords, she's treated like a queen, not like handmaid scum., "The Handmaid's Tale Season 2, Episode 6 Recap: They Went There," 23 May 2018 The magic ingredients in dryer sheets that soften fabrics and eliminate static will break down the soap scum. Jolie Kerr, New York Times, "Five Ways to Make Spring Cleaning Easier," 4 May 2018 Reddit is growing at Facebook's expense, yet its scum-and-villainy problem continues to resurface even after repeated purges. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "When Is Instagram Going to Blow It?," 6 June 2018 Bring to a simmer, skim the scum, then simmer for 30 minutes. Tara Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle, "Recipe: Quick Vegetable Stock," 1 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Lieberman is the scummiest scumbag who ever scummed. Jim Newell, Slate Magazine, "Donald Trump picking Joe Lieberman for FBI director would be incredibly canny and equally awful.," 18 May 2017

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.

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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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Statistics for scum

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scum

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

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More Definitions for scum



English Language Learners Definition of scum

: a layer of something unpleasant or unwanted that forms on top of a liquid

: a dishonest, unkind, or unpleasant person


\ˈskəm \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on scum

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with scum

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scum

Spanish Central: Translation of scum

Nglish: Translation of scum for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scum for Arabic Speakers

Comments on scum

What made you want to look up scum? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a nest or breeding place

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