Meaning of scum in English:



mass noun
  • 1A layer of dirt or froth on the surface of a liquid.

    ‘green scum found on stagnant pools’
    • ‘A problem may occur when the solids content rises in a lagoon, resulting in the accumulation of solids or scum above the surface.’
    • ‘The Sea is heaven's own blue like a diamond more lovely in a king's diadem than in the mines of the Indes but as it gushes up through the broken ice-like salt, it is black, full of asphalte scum - and in the hand slimy, and smarting as a sting.’
    • ‘There, waste components naturally separate, with heavier solids settling to the bottom forming sludge, and lighter solids floating to the top forming scum.’
    • ‘They may not break down readily and will contribute to the scum or sludge layers.’
    film, layer, covering, froth, foam, suds, dross, dirt
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    1. 1.1informal A worthless or contemptible person or group of people.
      ‘you drug dealers are the scum of the earth’
      • ‘And then he replied, ‘You're nothing but Eastern scum and a capitalist rip-off son-of-a-bitch.'’
      • ‘Danielle ‘Danny’ Sofer is conflicted, trying to maintain her femininity while beating down street scum on a daily basis.’
      • ‘I have no doubt that this was the intent of the film-makers: that we ultimately find Ben shallow, and the crew who becomes enthralled with such scum is pitiful.’
      • ‘Oz understands that the best dynamic is one based on the universal human need to be in control of oneself and feel a sense of honesty, even amongst the most heinous of society's scum.’
      • ‘Travis has purged himself by killing this street scum, but his fate is unsettled and his ‘heroism’ is still in question.’
      • ‘And if so, who did it: the poor, drug-dealing scum from the nearby projects, or his own rich friends?’
      • ‘Or is someone close to Harvey helping him rid the world of streetwalking scum?’
      • ‘Knowing that the body count was going to be considerably lower this time round I grabbed a ticket and prepared to watch Zebraman lay waste to criminal scum.’
      • ‘This time, a lonely little girl's imaginary friend turns real and decides that adults are scum.’
      • ‘The two cops visit snitches and the usual ghetto scum, and predictably Oak and Tellis's different methods bump heads.’
      • ‘This quest takes him to underground clubs, and into contact with all kinds of scum.’
      • ‘Sin City is the very depth and form of pulp, a contrasty, blooming monochrome nightmare of the very worst of human scum.’
      • ‘Now he has to finish his father's work and put the kibosh on this gooey alien scum once and for all!’
      • ‘On the other hand, the general consensus seems to be that journalists are nothing but pond life scum.’
      despicable people, despicable person, rabble, riff-raff, refuse, garbage, trash, vermin, good-for-nothing, good-for-nothings, undesirable, undesirables, the lowest of the low, the dregs of society
      View synonyms

verbscums, scumming, scummed

[with object]
  • 1Form a layer of dirt or froth on (a liquid)

    ‘litter scummed the surface of the water’
    • ‘The dregs of his dunked biscuits scummed the surface of the tea.’
    1. 1.1no object (of a liquid) become covered with a layer of dirt or froth.
      ‘the lagoon scummed over’
      • ‘Also, application of clear waterproofing materials may lock in moisture and crystalline growth, causing more scumming and possible spalling of brick.’


Middle English from Middle Low German, Middle Dutch schūm, of Germanic origin.