scum

[skuhm]
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noun
  1. a film or layer of foul or extraneous matter that forms on the surface of a liquid.
  2. refuse or offscourings.
  3. a low, worthless, or evil person.
  4. such persons collectively; riffraff; dregs.
  5. scoria(def 1).
verb (used with object), scummed, scum·ming.
  1. to remove the scum from.
  2. to remove as scum.
verb (used without object), scummed, scum·ming.
  1. to form scum; become covered with scum.

Origin of scum

1200–50; Middle English scume < Middle Dutch schūme (Dutch schuim) foam; cognate with German Schaum foam
Related formsscum·less, adjectivescum·like, adjectiveun·scummed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


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Historical Examples of scum


British Dictionary definitions for scum

scum

noun
  1. a layer of impure matter that forms on the surface of a liquid, often as the result of boiling or fermentation
  2. the greenish film of algae and similar vegetation surface of a stagnant pond
  3. Also called: dross, scruff the skin of oxides or impurities on the surface of a molten metal
  4. waste matter
  5. a worthless person or group of people
verb scums, scumming or scummed
  1. (tr) to remove scum from
  2. (intr) rare to form a layer of or become covered with scum
Derived Formsscumlike, adjectivescummer, noun

Word Origin for scum

C13: of Germanic origin; related to Old High German scūm, Middle Dutch schūm, Old French escume; see skim
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

Word Origin and History for scum
n.

early 14c. (implied in scummer "shallow ladle for removing scum"), from Middle Dutch schume "foam, froth," from Proto-Germanic *skuma- (cf. Old Norse skum, Old High German scum, German Schaum "foam, froth"), perhaps from PIE root *(s)keu- "to cover, conceal" (see hide (n.1)).

Sense deteriorated from "thin layer atop liquid" to "film of dirt," then just "dirt." Meaning "lowest class of humanity" is 1580s; scum of the Earth is from 1712. Adopted in Romanic, cf. Old French escume, Modern French écume, Spanish escuma, Italian schiuma.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper