Pronunciation Noun


  1. (uncountable) A layer of impurities that accumulates at the surface of a liquid (especially molten metal or water).
    During smelting, scum rises to the surface and is then removed by the smelter.
  2. (uncountable) A greenish water vegetation (such as algae), usually found floating on the surface of ponds
    These organisms form scum in large quantities.
  3. The topmost liquid layer of a cesspool or septic tank.
  4. (uncountable, slang, chiefly US) semen
  5. (countable, derogatory, slang) A reprehensible person or persons.
    People who sell used-up pens are scum, just total low-lives.
Synonyms Translations Translations Translations Verb

scum (scums, present participle scumming; past and past participle scummed)

  1. To remove the layer of scum from (a liquid etc.).
  2. 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 […].
  3. 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
  4. (obsolete) To scour (the land, sea etc.).
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, [;view=fulltext 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
    • 1670, John Milton, The History of Britain, […] , London: Printed by J.M. for James Alleſtry, […] , OCLC 78038412 ↗:
      Wandering up and down without certain seat, they lived by scumming those seas and shores as pirates.
  5. (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.
  6. (video games, informal) To startscum or savescum.

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