\ 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

The blooms can produce a foam, scum or thick layers on the surface of the water that can look and smell bad. Leada Gore |, al, "How to protect your pets from harmful algae in water," 14 Aug. 2019 Toxic algae can look like foam, scum or mats on the surface of water, explained Schmale. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "WATCH: How to Protect Your Dog from Toxic Algae," 14 Aug. 2019 Blue-green algae can be visible as thick mats on the surface of water or can be present without visible surface scum. Briana Rice,, "The algae that killed 3 dogs has been found in Ohio. Here's what you should know.," 12 Aug. 2019 Officials said dogs are particularly susceptible to blue-green algae poisoning because the scum can attach to their coats and be swallowed during self-cleaning. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "The algae that killed 3 dogs has been found in Indiana. Here's what you should know.," 12 Aug. 2019 Every summer, pea-soup algae scum chokes more ponds and lakes around the world. Ruth Kassinger,, "How slime will save the world," 26 July 2019 Clark County Public Health officials still recommend that Fourth of July visitors still not swim or water ski in parts of the lake that have visible scum and that no one drink the water at all., "Don’t swim in Vancouver Lake, health officials say," 12 July 2019 The health department found scum and mold inside pool wall skimmers at the Northern Kentucky University Spa in Highland Heights, according to a safety report from Feb. 25. Julia Fair,, "How clean is your Northern Kentucky pool? We checked the health reports to see," 4 July 2019 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

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

29 Aug 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

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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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