A word that seems just made to be down at the heels. The opening sl is wet or messy: don’t slouch or slur or you’ll slide down a slippery slope like a slug into the slush. It commects with um, heard in dumb and bum and, um, um – also in hum and strum and thumb and come and yum, but the sl opening and the definite slump echo are likely to clarify which set of ums it goes with! If this word sounds louche, well it should; it comes from the cant of the criminal class (attested by 1812), and originally meant a room. Of course, given whose word it was, it was not a high-class room, and soon enough it came to refer to the cramped quarters of the English outcastes. And if some toff wished to ditch his pile for some infra dig digs, he could cutely enough call it slumming – we now use the verb fairly broadly, but always with the sense of taking a downward holiday from one’s regular station. Slums are cramped quarters where many may brush shoulders, and this word brushes shoulders with quite a few in regular use: dweller, lord, clearance; also sprawling, housing, urban, city; lately Sadr City in Baghdad has come often in the same sentence; and, now tattooed into our tongue, slumdog (which for contrast goes with millionaire).
Be a patron!Support Sesquiotica and get extra premium content and goodies. Starts as low as $1 a month! Find out more and subscribe on Patreon.com
I am for hireI earn my living as an independent editor, writer, and educator. Find out more and contact me at jamesharbeck.com.
Buy the T-shirt (or coffee mug or hip flask)
Wear it proudly:
I operate on a NEED-TO-KNOW basis. I need to know EVERYTHING.
Buy it at cafepress.ca/sesquiphernalia
12 Gifts for Writers ebook – free download
Buy my books
Buy my books on Lulu.com:
- Confessions of a Word Lush (paperback)
- Confessions of a Word Lush (ebook)
- Songs of Love and Grammar (paperback)
- Songs of Love and Grammar (ebook)
- 12 Gifts for Writers (print edition)
You can also get them on Amazon.com. Please note that I make less than half as much per book if you buy them there, however.
Word Tasting Notes Google groupGet just the word tasting notes daily by email – join the Google Word Tasting Notes group.
- 365 words for drunk
- turn the other cheek
- When does the new decade begin?
- around, about, approximately
- Whom do you believe?
- I plight thee my troth
- Among other things, it's a sentence adverb
- An article title, "An article title 'An article title needs commas' needs commas," needs commas
- Coffice Space
- from the bookshelf
- language and linguistics
- new old words
- Poetry Minute and a Half
- pronunciation tips
- The Week
- Word Country
- word pictures
- word portraits
- word reviews
- word sommelier
- word tasting notes