From Middle English scum, scom, from Old English *scūm (“foam”) or Middle Dutch schūme (“foam”), both from Proto-Germanic *skūmaz (“froth, foam”), from Proto-Indo-European *skew- (“to cover, conceal”). Cognate with Dutch schuim (“foam”), German Schaum (“foam”), Danish and Swedish skum (“foam”). Compare also French écume (“scum”), Italian schiuma (“foam”), Walloon schome (“scum, foam”), Lithuanian šamas (“catfish”) and skanus (“tasty”) from the same Germanic source. Related to skim.
scum (countable and uncountable, plural scums)
- (uncountable) A layer of impurities that accumulates at the surface of a liquid (especially molten metal or water).
- (uncountable) A greenish water vegetation (such as algae), usually found floating on the surface of ponds
- The topmost liquid layer of a cesspool or septic tank.
- (uncountable, slang, chiefly US) semen
- (countable, derogatory, slang) A reprehensible person or persons.
greenish water vegetation
topmost liquid layer of a cesspool or septic tank
person or persons considered to be reprehensible
- Greek: απόβρασμα (el) n (apóvrasma), κάθαρμα (el) n (kátharma)
- Latin: caenum n, sentīna f
- Portuguese: escória (pt) f
- Russian: подле́ц (ru) m (podléc), негодя́й (ru) m (negodjáj), (also collective) сво́лочь (ru) f (svóločʹ); (collective:) отро́дье (ru) n (otródʹje), отре́бье (ru) n (otrébʹje), шваль (ru) f (švalʹ), не́чисть (ru) f (néčistʹ), сброд (ru) m (sbrod), шу́шера (ru) f (šúšera), шантропа́ (ru) f (šantropá)
- Spanish: canalla (es), escoria (es)
scum (third-person singular simple present scums, present participle scumming, simple past and past participle scummed)
- To remove the layer of scum from (a liquid etc.).
- To remove (something) as scum.
- 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.vii:
- Some scumd the drosse, that from the metall came; / Some stird the molten owre with ladles great […].
- To become covered with scum.
- 1769, Elizabeth Raffald, The Experienced English House-keeper, pp.321-322:
- Take the smallest Cucumbers you can get, and as free from Spots as possible, put them into a strong Salt and Water for nine or ten Days, or 'till they are quite Yellow, and stir them twice a Day at least, or they will scum over, and grow soft
- (obsolete) To scour (the land, sea etc.).
- 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter xiij, in Le Morte Darthur, book I:
- SOo by Merlyns aduys ther were sente fore rydars to skumme the Countreye / & they mette with the fore rydars of the north / and made hem to telle whiche wey the hooste cam / and thenne they told it to Arthur / and by kyng Ban and Bors counceill they lete brenne and destroye alle the contrey afore them there they shold ryde
- (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
- Wandering up and down without certain seat, they lived by scumming those seas and shores as pirates.
- (obsolete) To gather together, as scum.
- 1815, Rudolf Ackerman and Frederic Shoberl, The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics:
- A great majority of the members are scummed together from the Jacobinical dregs of former periods of the revolution.
- (video games, informal) To startscum or savescum.