1 of 2


plural slums
: a densely populated usually urban area marked especially by poverty


2 of 2


slummed; slumming; slums

intransitive verb

: to visit slums especially out of curiosity
broadly : to go somewhere or do something that might be considered beneath one's station
sometimes used with it
slumming it in budget hotels
slummer noun

Examples of slum in a Sentence

Noun He grew up in the slums of New York. Verb He sometimes likes to go slumming in bars around the city.
Recent Examples on the Web
On the surface, working for a place like Sama seemed like a huge step up for young people from the slums, many of whom had family roots in factory work. Seyward Darby, Longreads, 9 Apr. 2024 Taken over by a gang from the Grand Ravine slum of the capital, the Sanatorium Hospital in the Carrefour-Feuilles neighborhood was forced to shut down, leaving HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients with one fewer option for treatment. Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, 31 Mar. 2024 In Havana’s slums, a woman’s violent domestic ordeal turns public when a video goes viral. John Hopewell, Variety, 4 Mar. 2024 Ideally, every city, school, hospital and home will reserve a certain percentage of land for nature so that all people—even those living in high-rise buildings or slums—have access to it. Joyeeta Gupta, Scientific American, 20 Feb. 2024 Crucially, the bus network knitted formerly disconnected slums and other far-flung, underserved districts of Bogotá with the city’s center. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, 7 Dec. 2023 The next stop, the slums of Alexandria, were built on a 30-foot wide structure influenced by the ivory towers found in Massimo Listri’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Kalia Richardson, Rolling Stone, 3 Mar. 2024 Widodo's rise from a riverside slum to the presidency has shown the vibrancy of Indonesia's democracy in a region rife with authoritarian regimes. Niniek Karmini and Edna Tariganthe Associated Press,, 15 Feb. 2024 Over the decades, the agency has taken on many functions of a state, running schools, medical centers and food assistance programs in Palestinian refugee camps that have become urban slums — not only in Gaza and the occupied West Bank but also in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Miriam Berger, Washington Post, 11 Feb. 2024
Years of doing comedy and doing improv comedy taught me so many things about pacing, timing, stamina, how to manage physicality — and doing stage work, doing theater, slumming away on the stage, sometimes for no one. Ew Staff,, 22 Nov. 2023 Baxter was obviously slumming in the teen market, as his songs are all wonky and askew—a square’s take on hip tunes. Stephen Deusner, SPIN, 22 Jan. 2024 Such disrespect both for viewers and for the art of movies is the kind that only a successful novelist slumming it in the gaudy halls of the film business could afford. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 11 Dec. 2023 There are actors who are unafraid to look foolish or petty in roles, who lean in to being unlikable onscreen when the mood (and the awards season) strikes, who might slum it by occasionally sporting an unflattering haircut or [shudder] reading glasses. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 27 Oct. 2023 That book was mocked for being Wolfe slumming his way into capturing the contemporary college experience. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 15 Sep. 2023 Polanski gathers a crew of rich bumblers and slumming swells, setting the entire film on New Year’s Eve of 1999. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 2 Sep. 2023 This was Tina slumming it on Hollywood Squares, Tina popping into The Sonny and Cher Show to hang out in matching Bob Mackies with Cher. Lester Fabian Brathwaite,, 25 May 2023 There’s also a completely unbelievable scene in which Allison goes slumming in a dive bar, only to run into a couple of old high school classmates eager to take their revenge on the once-popular girl who used to ignore them but now wants their drugs. Pat Padua, Washington Post, 22 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'slum.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



origin unknown

First Known Use


1825, in the meaning defined above


1884, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of slum was in 1825

Dictionary Entries Near slum

Cite this Entry

“Slum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: a thickly populated section especially of a city marked by crowding, dirty run-down housing, and generally poor living conditions


2 of 2 verb
slummed; slumming
: to visit slums especially out of curiosity
slummer noun

More from Merriam-Webster on slum

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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