scumble was our Word of the Day on 12/01/2012. Hear the podcast!
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Did You Know?
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.
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