scum Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun worthless people
  2. noun a film of impurities or vegetation that can form on the surface of a liquid
  3. verb remove the scum from


Scum noun
Of Scand. origin; cf. Dan. & Sw. skum, Icel. skm, LG. schum, D. schuim, OHG. scm, G. schaum; probably from a root meaning, to cover. Cf. Hide skin, Meerschaum, Skim, v., Sky.
  1. The extraneous matter or impurities which rise to the surface of liquids in boiling or fermentation, or which form on the surface by other means; also, the scoria of metals in a molten state; dross.
    Some to remove the scum it did rise. Spenser.
  2. refuse; recrement; anything vile or worthless.
    The great and innocent are insulted by the scum and refuse of the people. Addison.
Scum transitive verb
imperfect & past participle Scummed ; present participle & verbal noun Scumming
  1. To take the scum from; to clear off the impure matter from the surface of; to skim.
    You that scum the molten lead. Dryden & Lee.
  2. To sweep or range over the surface of. Obs.
    Wandering up and down without certain seat, they lived by scumming those seas and shores as pirates. Milton.
Scum intransitive verb
  1. To form a scum; to become covered with scum. Also used figuratively.
    Life, and the interest of life, have stagnated and scummed over. A. K. H. Boyd.

Webster 1913