from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A heavily populated urban area characterized by substandard housing and squalor. Often used in the plural.
  • intransitive v. To visit impoverished areas or squalid locales, especially out of curiosity or for amusement.
  • idiom slum it To endure conditions or accommodations that are worse than what one is accustomed to.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A dilapidated neighborhood where many people live in a state of poverty.
  • v. To visit a neighborhood of a status below one's own.
  • v. To associate with people or engage in activities with a status below one's own.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A foul back street of a city, especially one filled with a poor, dirty, degraded, and often vicious population; any low neighborhood or dark retreat; -- usually in the plural.
  • n. Same as Slimes.
  • intransitive v. To visit or frequent slums, esp. out of curiosity, or for purposes of study, etc. Also called go slumming.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To keep to back streets.
  • To visit the slums of a city, often from mere curiosity or as a diversion.
  • n. In metallurgy, same as slime, 3: chiefly in the plural.
  • n. A dirty back street of a city, especially such a street inhabited by a squalid and criminal population; a low and dangerous neighborhood: chiefly in the plural: as, the slums of Whitechapel and Westminster in London.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. spend time at a lower socio-economic level than one's own, motivated by curiosity or desire for adventure; usage considered condescending and insensitive
  • n. a district of a city marked by poverty and inferior living conditions


Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
This definition is lacking an etymology or has an incomplete etymology. You can help Wiktionary by giving it a proper etymology. (Wiktionary)


  • In 2005, the Mugabe government launched what it called a slum clearance scheme, that bulldozed major shantytowns, brutally displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

    CNN Transcript Mar 24, 2007

  • In 2005, the Mugabe government launched what it called a slum clearance scheme that bulldozed major shanty towns, brutally displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

    CNN Transcript Mar 20, 2007

  • On the other hand, a good portion of the population seems to live in slum-like conditions and will for the foreseeable future.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Let Turkey Have Gaza

  • The big expensive house where the rich live, surrounded by walls, with people living in slum-like conditions outside those walls. Anthropomorphizing Coral Gables

  • Prince Charles: Dharavi slum is a model for sustainable living

    Boing Boing

  • Built for 500,000 people originally, Brasilia soon outgrew its urban plan, housing residents in slum-like satellite cities.

    J. Michael Welton: Toward an Instant City

  • The slum is a direct by-product of the capitalist system of production.

    Saved – and Lost! The Sobraon Boys

  • The slum is their jungle, and they live and prey in the jungle.


  • And the man of the London slum is a very natural beast who expresses him self in a very natural manner.

    The Kempton-Wace Letters

  • In all the great cities, where they are segregated in slum ghettos by hundreds of thousands and by millions, their misery becomes beastliness.


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