Definition of scum in English:



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

    ‘green scum found on stagnant pools’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They may not break down readily and will contribute to the scum or sludge layers.’
    • ‘There, waste components naturally separate, with heavier solids settling to the bottom forming sludge, and lighter solids floating to the top forming scum.’
    • ‘A problem may occur when the solids content rises in a lagoon, resulting in the accumulation of solids or scum above the surface.’
    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’
      • ‘Sin City is the very depth and form of pulp, a contrasty, blooming monochrome nightmare of the very worst of human scum.’
      • ‘Danielle ‘Danny’ Sofer is conflicted, trying to maintain her femininity while beating down street scum on a daily basis.’
      • ‘And then he replied, ‘You're nothing but Eastern scum and a capitalist rip-off son-of-a-bitch.'’
      • ‘Travis has purged himself by killing this street scum, but his fate is unsettled and his ‘heroism’ is still in question.’
      • ‘Now he has to finish his father's work and put the kibosh on this gooey alien scum once and for all!’
      • ‘This quest takes him to underground clubs, and into contact with all kinds of scum.’
      • ‘On the other hand, the general consensus seems to be that journalists are nothing but pond life scum.’
      • ‘This time, a lonely little girl's imaginary friend turns real and decides that adults are scum.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Or is someone close to Harvey helping him rid the world of streetwalking scum?’
      • ‘And if so, who did it: the poor, drug-dealing scum from the nearby projects, or his own rich friends?’
      • ‘The two cops visit snitches and the usual ghetto scum, and predictably Oak and Tellis's different methods bump heads.’
      • ‘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.’
      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


[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.