\ 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

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Other Words from scum


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

People were calling these people trash, scum, homeless, and that broke me. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Former Channel 3 anchor Brandon Lee pulls out all his skeletons in memoir 'Mascara Boy'," 30 June 2019 According to the Centers for Disease Control, HABs are the rapid growth of algae that can look like foam or scum on top of the water. Leada Gore |,, "Toxic algae closes water at 9 Mississippi beaches; seafood warning issues," 26 June 2019 Cars were plowing bow waves through puddles of scum. Nell Zink, Harper's magazine, "Marmalade Sky," 24 June 2019 Just as Walt Disney’s artisans selected sherbet pink to coat Sleeping Beauty’s Castle when the Anaheim, California, resort opened in 1955, some Imagineer must have agonized over the shade and shape of the scum for the Galaxy’s Edge trash cans. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "The Star Wars Park Is a Space-Junk Fantasy," 5 June 2019 Health officials recommend people don’t swim or waterski in areas of scum or drink the lake water., "Blue-green algae advisory issued for Vancouver Lake," 13 June 2019 And yet nothing has worked on the stubborn hard-water stains and soap-scum buildup that makes your glass shower doors look frosted, and not in a nice decorative way. Jolie Kerr, New York Times, "Five Ways to Make Spring Cleaning Easier," 4 May 2018 Here are the types of buildups that occur and suggestions to keep your shower glass looking beautiful for many years: Soap scum is a white, solid buildup of soap and hard water. Stacy Argo, Houston Chronicle, "GHBA Remodelers Council: Care for your glass shower doors, enclosures," 22 Feb. 2018 Green scum collects under bridges where the water has stagnated and fishing boats are stranded on the river bed. Washington Post, "Iraq bans farming summer crops as water crisis grows dire," 5 July 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

4 Jul 2019

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
informal : a dishonest, unkind, or unpleasant person


\ 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

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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

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