From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Alternative forms[edit]

  • (byproduct from processing whales or fish): slobgollion


Uncertain,[1] but said to derive from slime and Scots gullion (swamp; cesspool).[1][2] Attested from the late nineteenth century in reference to a watery beverage (see quotation below). Compare Irish góilín (a creek; a small inlet).



slumgullion (countable and uncountable, plural slumgullions)

  1. A stew of meat and vegetables.
    Synonym: slum
    • 1981, Julian May, The Many-Colored Land:
      “Say...if anybody cares, this vat of slumgullion is as ready as it will ever be.”
  2. A beverage made watery, such as weak coffee or tea.
    • 1872, Mark Twain, Roughing It[1], pages 43-44:
      Then he poured for us a beverage which he called “Slumgullion,” and it is hard to think he was not inspired when he named it. It really pretended to be tea, but there was too much dish-rag, and sand, and old bacon-rind in it to deceive the intelligent traveler.
  3. A reddish muddy deposit in mining sluices.
  4. A mixture of unrelated things, a jumble or hodgepodge.
    • 2018, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Emily Cochrane, “Shutdown Looms and Priorities Stack Up as Congress Races Toward Session’s End”, in The New York Times:
      Aides are tossing around metaphors to describe the means by which other bills could find their way into the spending package. The last train leaving the station. Final ornaments on the Christmas tree. "A big slumgullion of legislation," Mr. Whitehouse offered.
  5. A waste product or byproduct from processing whales or fish.
    Synonym: gurry
    • 1892, Herman Melville, Moby Dick[2], page 394:
      There is another substance, and a very singular one, which turns up in the course of this business [of preparing sperm whale], but which I feel it to be very puzzling adequately to describe. It is called slobgollion [] It is an ineffably oozy, stringy affair, most frequently found in the tubs of sperm, after a prolonged squeezing, and subsequent decanting.
    • 1904, Charles H. Stevenson, “Aquatic products in arts and industries”, in Report of the Commissioner for Fish and Fisheries[3], page 198:
      The “slumgullion” and “lipperings” or “dreenings” of the blubber—consisting of a mixture of the blood which issues from the fat-lean and the salt water and oil which flows from the blubber while the men are handling it as they hoist it aboard ship, stow it away, and prepare it for the try-pots—though discarded in the palmy days of whaling, are now carefully husbanded and amalgamated.
    • 1996, Lee Gregory, Colorado Scenic Guide: Southern Region[4], Slumgullion Earthflow, page 142:
      The slide received its name from a seafaring man who was reminded of slumgullion, the yellow residue from the blubber of a butchered whale.
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:slumgullion.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Michael Quinion (May 23, 2009), “Slumgullion”, in World Wide Words.
  2. ^ slumgullion”, in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1996–present.