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[sluhm] /slʌm/
Often, slums. a thickly populated, run-down, squalid part of a city, inhabited by poor people.
any squalid, run-down place to live.
verb (used without object), slummed, slumming.
to visit slums, especially from curiosity.
to visit or frequent a place, group, or amusement spot considered to be low in social status.
Origin of slum
1805-15; compare earlier argot slum room; origin obscure
Related forms
slummer, noun
deslum, verb (used with object), deslummed, deslumming. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for slum
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Rowley, as no doubt you've heard, has just accepted a slum parish in Shoreditch.

    The Altar Steps Compton MacKenzie
  • I got out of the brougham and ran through a slum, or I'd have lost my train.

    The Convert Elizabeth Robins
  • The crowding of slum areas by "lodgers" is as grave an evil.

  • slum slid from the bar to the ground, and his deep-set eyes were smiling again.

    The Night Riders Ridgwell Cullum
  • From the standpoint of simple decency and clean manhood and womanhood, any mean street, of all its mean streets, is a slum.

British Dictionary definitions for slum


a squalid overcrowded house, etc
(often pl) a squalid section of a city, characterized by inferior living conditions and usually by overcrowding
(modifier) of, relating to, or characteristic of slums: slum conditions
verb (intransitive) slums, slumming, slummed
to visit slums, esp for curiosity
Also slum it. to suffer conditions below those to which one is accustomed
Derived Forms
slummer, noun
slummy, adjective
Word Origin
C19: originally slang, of obscure origin
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
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Word Origin and History for slum

1845, from back slum "dirty back alley of a city, street of poor or low people" (1825), originally a slang or cant word meaning "room," especially "back room" (1812), of unknown origin, pastime popularized by East End novels. Related: slums. Slumscape is from 1947.


"visit slums of a city," especially for diversion or amusement, often under guise of philanthropy, 1884, from slum (n.). Pastime popularized by East End novels. Earlier it meant to visit slums for disreputable purposes or in search of vice (1860). Related: Slumming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for slum

slug it out

verb phrase

To fight with powerful blows; try to smash one another; go toe to toe: The principals were slugging it out in the alley (1943+)



Stuporous or uncoordinated mentally and physically from taking too many blows on the head; punch-drunk: ''Slug-nutty'' fighters are often very talkative (1933+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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