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[sluhm] /slʌm/
Often, slums. a thickly populated, run-down, squalid part of a city, inhabited by poor people.
any squalid, run-down place to live.
verb (used without object), slummed, slumming.
to visit slums, especially from curiosity.
to visit or frequent a place, group, or amusement spot considered to be low in social status.
Origin of slum
1805-15; compare earlier argot slum room; origin obscure
Related forms
slummer, noun
deslum, verb (used with object), deslummed, deslumming. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for slumming
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I am not strong enough to go out ‘slumming’ or visiting hospitals, as some girls do.

    The Daughters of a Genius Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey
  • There's something most distasteful to me, too, about Thyme's going about slumming.

    Fraternity John Galsworthy
  • Item, a maiden who believes in education and possesses it, with a few hundred thousand dollars to boot and a taste for slumming.

    American Notes Rudyard Kipling
  • Like slumming, it is a fad to hit the pipe just once by some adventure seeking people in other walks of life.

  • How Miss Alice would like that—to catch me going 'slumming' with my maid!

    Miss Billy's Decision Eleanor H. Porter
  • The slumming movement made an early appeal to the younger members of the university.

    Cambridge Mildred Anna Rosalie Tuker
  • Jim had never seen these things before; now they were the whole world; he had seen nothing else these slumming days.

    The Preacher of Cedar Mountain Ernest Thompson Seton
  • Without hesitation Kennedy entered, and we followed, acting the part of a slumming party.

    The Silent Bullet Arthur B. Reeve
British Dictionary definitions for slumming


a squalid overcrowded house, etc
(often pl) a squalid section of a city, characterized by inferior living conditions and usually by overcrowding
(modifier) of, relating to, or characteristic of slums: slum conditions
verb (intransitive) slums, slumming, slummed
to visit slums, esp for curiosity
Also slum it. to suffer conditions below those to which one is accustomed
Derived Forms
slummer, noun
slummy, adjective
Word Origin
C19: originally slang, of obscure origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for slumming



1845, from back slum "dirty back alley of a city, street of poor or low people" (1825), originally a slang or cant word meaning "room," especially "back room" (1812), of unknown origin, pastime popularized by East End novels. Related: slums. Slumscape is from 1947.


"visit slums of a city," especially for diversion or amusement, often under guise of philanthropy, 1884, from slum (n.). Pastime popularized by East End novels. Earlier it meant to visit slums for disreputable purposes or in search of vice (1860). Related: Slumming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for slumming

slum 1

v,v phr

To visit places or consort with persons below one's place or dignity; mix with one's inferiors: So we went slumming over in Philadelphia

[1884+; fr slum, ''wretched poor area,'' origin unknown]

slum 2


Any inferior and esp unidentifiable food or drink; a nasty nameless stew;slop

[1847+;origin unknown; perhaps a vaguely echoic denigrating coinage related to slum1]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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