Green’s Dictionary of Slang

slum n.2

[SE slum, a run-down, poverty-stricken area; thus a generic negative]

1. nonsensical talk or writing, ‘gammon’, ‘blarney’.

[UK]Egan Boxiana I 2: [note] When Blackstone [...] has been deemed ignorant; our researches to boast an authority after this assertion, would be mere slum.
[UK]Jack Randall’s Diary 22: Thus, without more slum (*bother).
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 131: Rum slum—Gammon—queer talk or action, in which some fraudulent intentions are discoverable or suspected.
[UK] ‘All England Are Slanging It’ Universal Songster I 40/1: Flash, my dear fellow – What sort of language do you call that? Some very barbarous tongue, ain’t it? – No, no Barbary tongue at all, merely a little rum slum to put the knowing ones awake and queer the flats with.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 30: Slum – gammon, sham.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.

2. the jargon of gypsies.

[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor III 47/2: ‘Slum’ — call, or unknown tongue.

3. a trick, a hoax.

[Aus]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 261: racket some particular kinds of fraud and robbery are so termed, when called by their flash titles, and others Rig [...] but all these terms depend upon the fancy of the speaker. In fact, any game may be termed a rig, racket, suit, slum, &c., by prefixing thereto the particular branch of depredation or fraud in question, many examples of which occur in this work.
[UK]‘Knowing Bill’ in Rake’s Budget in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 86: All the flash coves in Covent Garden knows me, and calls me Knowing Bill, because I’m down to every move, up to every sharp, fly to every trick and awake to all their slum.
[UK]New Sprees of London 3: Nanty palary the rumcull of the Casey is [...] quisby in the nut, not fly, not up to the moves, not down to the dodges, not awake, can't tumble to the slums, not wido to the slangs.
[UK]Man of Pleasure’s Illus. Pocket-book n.p.: The nuns of this convent can [...] grind the piano —and that is not the only slum they can grind.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 224/2: A slum’s a paper fake, – make a foot-note of that, sir.

4. a professionally written begging letter; in cite 1851 a fake subscription list, with counterfeit signatories, calling for alms.

[UK]Lancaster Gaz. 5 Apr. 3/5: The gentlemen whose names are attached to the brief [e.g. a fake subscription list] are entered into the book for handsome sums. [...] They call the brief a ‘slum,’ and the book, a ‘delicate’.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 96: SLUM, a letter.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 311/2: Letters, setting forth imaginary cases of distress. Of these documents there are two sorts, ‘slums’ (letters) and ‘fakements’ (petitions).
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 76: Slum, a letter.

5. an insinuation, an innuendo.

[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict.

6. (UK Und.) a letter written from prison.

[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict.

7. (US) a disparaging name for a person.

[US]O. Johnson Varmint 294: ‘Is that bunch of slums going to be there?’ ‘Are you referring to my friends?’ said Stover.
[US]Z.N. Hurston Seraph on the Suwanee (1995) 876: Slums like them would just as soon scour the the floor with Mama’s tablecloths as not.

In derivatives

slummy (adj.)

(US) socially inferior.

[UK]W. Holtby South Riding (1988) 198: Fat, rough, vulgar, slummy Lydia had gone home to look after her horrid little snotty-nosed brothers and sisters.
[US](con. 1943–5) A. Murphy To Hell and Back (1950) 120: Trouble with you slummy characters is that you never get around high society.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

slumbox (n.)

a typical example of slum housing.

[UK]London Dly News 6 Dec. 5/6: [I]t stood as an architectural oasis in a desert of wretched little slum-boxes, with brown paper windows and red-tiled lids.
[UK]J. Manchon Le Slang.
[US]S. Stallone Paradise Alley (1978) 107: Ya ain’t never leavin’ this slumbox unless ya wise up!
slum-dragger (n.)

a member of the London working classes.

[UK]J.H.M. Abbott Tommy Cornstalk 188: Sometimes, at night, neighbours would drop into your marquee. And there had come one who was a ‘bleeder’ – at any rate that is what he of the Fourteenth said of him. It seemed to be a pet name for a typical low-class Londoner – a slum-dragger, one of the very much ‘submerged tenth’.
slums and bums (n.) [bum n.3 (2)]

(US campus) a course in urban local government.

[Pittsburgh Post-Gaz. (PA) 20 Feb. 36/3: 8:30 PM Tonight WQED Channel 13 ‘Slums and Bums’ Growing Problems of Rural and Urban Slums].
[US]Kerrville Times (TX) 21 Mar. 10/1: Students from the University of Vermont use this class nomenclature for: Anthropology, ‘Stones and Bones’. Biology, ‘Cuts and Guts’. Urban Local Government, ‘Slums and Bums’. First Aid, Safety, ‘Choke and Croak’. Field Zoology, ‘Bag ’em, and Tag ’em’.
Cliff Anderson ‘Wicked cool stuff about Vermont!!’ on Homepage 🌐 [as 1989] .
slum-scribbler (n.)

(UK Und.) a writer of begging letters, posing as an honest labourer fallen on hard times.

[UK]H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor (1862) IV 447/2: Many ‘screevers, slum-scribblers, and fakement-dodgers’ eke out a living by this sort of authorship [i.e. fake ‘tales of woe’].

In phrases

on the billiard slum [SE billiards, i.e. a ball bouncing at various angles + sense 3 above, orig. Und.]

(Aus.) working as a confidence trickster; thus give it them on the billiard slum, go on the billiard slum, to hoax, to defraud.

[Aus]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 227: billiard slum: The mace is sometimes called giving it to ’em on the billiard slum.
up to (someone’s) slum (adj.)

knowing, aware, on the lookout for tricks.

[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 16: An old trick of his youth – but the Bear, up to slum, / Follow’d close on my gentleman, kneading his crum.
[US]R. Waln Hermit in America on Visit to Phila. 201: Hurra! for Ruby’s, we’ll soon see who’s up to slum.
[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 347: Twig Tom, Jerry and Bobby; / Who, on quitting the Spells, / Swallow Ruin with Belles, / Yet are up to their slum.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 559: I’m d—d if he was not up to slum, and he whiddied their wattles with the velvet, and floored the town toddlers easy enough.
[UK]D. Carey Life in Paris 91: She found I was too well up to her slum to swallow the cant of hypocrisy like a green horn.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 34: up to slum – humbug or gammon.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].
[UK]Kendal Mercury 17 Apr. 6/1: I told him it vas no go, for I vas up to slum, and vouldn’t be gammon’d.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 242: up to slum proficient in roguery, capable of committing a theft successfully.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict.