scumble

verb
scum·​ble | \ˈskəm-bəl \
scumbled; scumbling\ ˈskəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ \

Definition of scumble 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to make (something, such as color or a painting) less brilliant by covering with a thin coat of opaque or semiopaque color applied with a nearly dry brush

b : to apply (a color) in this manner

2 : to soften the lines or colors of (a drawing) by rubbing lightly

scumble

noun

Definition of scumble (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or effect of scumbling

2 : a material used for scumbling

Did You Know?

Verb

The history of "scumble" is blurry, but the word is thought to be related to the verb "scum," an obsolete form of "skim" (meaning "to pass lightly over"). Scumbling, as first perfected by artists such as Titian, involves passing dry, opaque coats of oil paint over a tinted background to create subtle tones and shadows. But although the painting technique dates to the 16th century, use of the word scumble is only known to have begun in the late 18th century. The more generalized "smudge" or "smear" sense appeared even later, in the mid-1800s.

First Known Use of scumble

Verb

1798, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1834, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for scumble

Verb

perhaps frequentative of scum entry 2

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about scumble

Listen to Our Podcast about scumble

Dictionary Entries near scumble

sculpturesque

scum

scumbag

scumble

scumboard

scumfish

scumless

Statistics for scumble

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scumble

The first known use of scumble was in 1798

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on scumble

See words that rhyme with scumble

Comments on scumble

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

WORD OF THE DAY

by force of circumstances

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!