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  • IPA(key): /slʌm/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌm

Etymology 1[edit]

Slum homes in Mumbai, India.

First attested in 1812.; originally slang, in the sense "room", especially "backroom", of unknown origin.


slum (countable and uncountable, plural slums)

  1. (countable) A dilapidated neighborhood where many people live in a state of poverty.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:slum
    • 1855, Charles Dickens, “Gambling”, in Household Words, volume 31:
      Go to the half built-upon slums behind Battlebridge [] you will find groups of boys [] squatting in the mud, among the rubbish, the broken bricks, the dust-heaps, and the fragments of timber []
    • 1927-29, M.K. Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, translated 1940 by Mahadev Desai, Part I, Chapter xvi:
      I saw that most of those who were spending from eight to fifteen pounds monthly had the advantage of scholarships. I had before me examples of much simpler living. I came across a fair number of poor students living more humbly than I. One of them was staying in the slums in a room at two shillings a week and living on two pence worth of cocoa and bread per meal from Lockhart's cheap Cocoa Rooms.
    • 2012, Andrew Martin, Underground Overground: A passenger's history of the Tube, Profile Books, →ISBN, page 16:
      Pearson's London was what we now call central London, and much of it was slums. Today most of us wouldn't say no to a pied à terre in Clerkenwell, but in 1850 it was a slum. Drury Lane? A slum. Seven Dials and Covent Garden? Holborn and Finsbury? Slums.
  2. (slang, uncountable) Inexpensive trinkets awarded as prizes in a carnival game.
    • 1956, Theron Fox, How to Make Money with Carnival Games, page 58:
      The lower the price of slum the better it is for the operator who can either give more of it out or build up the size of his big prizes. It is the big prizes that bring the play, even though the winner has to be satisfied with a piece of slum for his efforts.
    • 1976, Mary Carey & George Sherman, A compendium of bunk: or, How to spot a con artist:
      Another hanky pank is the darts and balloons. No gaffs, no grift, nothing phoney. Game for the kids and the family. Get a dozen gross of slum and pass it out to the kids, and everybody'll love you.
    • 2009, Richard Margittay, Carnival Games: the Perfect Crimes, →ISBN:
      Making twenty times his investment in only seconds, the concessionaire smiled as he awarded the nickel slum, often a stuffed worm, to each unwitting pigeon.
Derived terms[edit]
  • Czech: slum
  • Danish: slum
  • Finnish: slummi
  • German: Slum
  • Norwegian Nynorsk: slum
  • Polish: slums
  • Swedish: slum


slum (third-person singular simple present slums, present participle slumming, simple past and past participle slummed)

  1. (intransitive) To visit a neighborhood of a status below one's own.
    • 1984, Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City, →ISBN, page 4:
      When you meet the girl who wouldn't et cetera you will tell her that your are slumming, visiting your own six A.M. Lower East Side of the soul on a lark, stepping nimbly between the piles of garbage to the gay marimba rhythms in your head.
    • 2020, David Rosen, Prohibition New York City, Arcadia Publishing, →ISBN, page 110:
      While slumming had long been an indulgence; if not liberty, of many well-to-do men (and some women), the intimate theaters created by Prohibition brought together elements of normally disparate social groups through a special form of bonding, breaking the law and enjoying it.
  2. (intransitive, UK, slang, dated) To saunter about in a disreputable manner.
Derived terms[edit]
  • (saunter about): 1873, John Camden Hotten, The Slang Dictionary

Etymology 2[edit]

See slumgullion.


slum (uncountable)

  1. (slang) Slumgullion; a meat-based stew.

Further reading[edit]





slum m inan

  1. slum (dilapidated neighborhood)


Further reading[edit]

  • slum in Kartotéka Novočeského lexikálního archivu

Norwegian Nynorsk[edit]


slum m (definite singular slummen, indefinite plural slummar, definite plural slummane)

  1. a slum