"squalid district of a city, low and dangerous neighborhood," 1845, shortened 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), like most cant words it is of unknown origin. It also meant "nonsensical talk or writing" (1812). 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.). A pastime popularized by reform movement pamphlets (e.g. "The Bitter Cry of Outcast London," 1883) and East End novels. Earlier it meant "to visit slums for disreputable purposes or in search of vice" (1860). Related: Slummer; slumming.
updated on January 15, 2023