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

  • n. A watery meat stew.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A stew of meat and vegetables.
  • n. A beverage made watery, such as weak coffee or tea.
  • n. A reddish muddy deposit in mining sluices.
  • n. A sperm whaleman's term, roughly equivalent to the right whaleman's "gurry" which, according to Herman Melville, "designates the dark, glutinous substance which is scraped off the back of the Greenland or Right Whale, and much of which covers the decks of those inferior souls who hunt that ignoble Leviathan."(Melville 323) Derivation for this term likely originates with the word "slobgollion" which is, according to Melville's Moby Dick, "an appellation original with the whaleman, and even so is the nature of the substance. It is an ineffably oozy, stringy affair, most frequently found in the tubs of sperm, after a prolonged squeezing, and subsequent decanting. I hold it to be the wondrously thin, ruptured Membranes of the case, coalescing." (Melville 323)

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Offal or refuse of fish of any kind; also, the watery refuse, mixed with blood and oil, which drains from blubber.
  • n. 2. A cheap drink.
  • n. A servant; one who represents another.

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

  • n. a thin stew of meat and vegetables


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

Perhaps slum, muddy deposit in a mining sluice + dialectal gullion, mud (perhaps from Irish Gaelic goilín, pit).


  • The name "Slumgullion Pass" came about because the color of the sliding mud reminded local gold miners of the muddy sediments, called slumgullion, in their sluice boxes.

    The Vail Trail - All Sections

  • Station food isn't merely bad; it's condemned army bacon and "slumgullion," a concoction that "pretended to be tea" but contained "too much dish-rag, and sand, and old bacon-rind ... to deceive the intelligent traveler."

    Twain's American Journey

  • •Kathy Eaton of Booneville, Miss., recalls a cast-iron-skillet-style potato dish called "slumgullion," or so she thinks, after watching an old episode of Gunsmoke, which she learned from her father, "who would be 103 this year.

    Father's Day contest brims with memories, recipes

  • With a mocking gurgle, about a dram of "slumgullion" passed into his mouth.

    The Mascot of Sweet Briar Gulch

  • The saturated red soil overflowed the brim with that liquid ooze known as "slumgullion," and turned the crystal pool to the color of blood until the soil was washed away.

    From Sand Hill to Pine

  • His fondness for paddling in the ditches and "slumgullion" at one time suggested a water spaniel.

    Selected Stories of Bret Harte

  • His breast, legs, and feet -- when not reddened by "slumgullion," in which he was fond of wading -- were white.

    Selected Stories of Bret Harte

  • A few days after Raintree took it over, he was lookin 'round the garden, which old Sobriente had always kept shut up agin strangers, and he finds a lot of dried-up' slumgullion'* scattered all about the borders and beds, just as if the old man had been using it for fertilizing.

    Mr. Jack Hamlin's Mediation

  • A dank, fresh-fishy smell pervades the atmosphere; and such houses as were open to public view bore evident signs of inundation on the walls and 'slumgullion' on the floors.

    The Recent Floods in Sacramento Valley, California

  • "slumgullion" isn't a complimentary reference to goulash, you can move on to calling Rep. Murtha a "swag-bellied wagtail"!

    The Reality Check


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • ' “Slumgullion” is a word that means several things, including a watery stew, the watery waste left after the rendering of whale blubber, and the slurry associated with a mine. It is generally believed to be derived from “slum,” an old word for “slime,” and “gullion,” an English dialect term for “mud” or “cesspool.” “Gullion” may actually be a corruption of the Gaelic word góilín, “pit” or “pool.” The earliest recorded usage of “slumgullion,” in Mark Twain’s Roughing It (1872), refers to a drink:

    Then he poured for us a beverage which he called “Slum gullion,” 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." '


    Forever Words: A new book collects the unpublished poems of Johnny Cash.

    By Paul Muldoon

    Poetry Foundation

    November 9, 2016

  • NOUN: A watery meat stew.

    ETYMOLOGY: Perhaps slum, muddy deposit in a mining sluice + dialectal gullion, mud (perhaps from Irish Gaelic goilín, pit).


    But didn't Shakespeare use it as an insult, or am I imagining things again?

    March 24, 2007