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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.
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 slums
  • In the developing world a billion people live in urban slums, with another billion expected in the coming decades.
  • There he organized students to collect leftover medicines and visit slums to treat the inhabitants.
  • There are vast slums of dirt roads and shanties and a conspicuous homeless population in the heart of downtown.
  • Training barracks and battlefields replaced slums and tent cities as the film industry embraced the war effort.
  • It is the popular summer resort of the slums, but business is brisk at this stand the year round.
  • At the same time new slums are constantly growing up uptown, and have to be kept down with a firm hand.
  • Unfortunately, this gives way all too soon to dusty suburbs of corrugated-tin slums and appalling poverty.
  • People packed into slums need help, but the problem that needs solving is poverty and lack of infrastructure, not overpopulation.
  • Generally speaking, travelers tend to eschew slums in their urban itineraries.
  • Luxury apartment complexes right next door to sprawling slums could only happen in my city.
British Dictionary definitions for slums


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 slums



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 slums

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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