4 thoughts on “The obscure word of the week is scumble

  1. I protest! The word “scumble” should not mean “an artistic technique involving adding a thin layer of paint to an artwork to reduce contrast.” The “um” therein is much more suited to, not an artistic technique, but an artistic failure involving adding a thick gob of paint in such wise as to ruin the work. Words like “scrum,” “dumb,” “numb,” and “”rumble” and “tumble” will perhaps serve to illustrate what I mean.

    In other words, “scumble” should have a meaning expressive of what a “gawm,” rather than a talented artist, would do when set loose with a paintbrush and a canvas; he or she would, not just mess it up, but “gawm” it up. (I believe that to be another Maine localism.)

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    1. I agree- scumble is too good a word to waste on an artistic technique. It needs an additional meaning. Actually, now I think about it, ‘scumble’ is also a homonym for ‘stumble’, so might be something to do with stumbling in a very erratic manner.


  2. My first thought was something like: Politicians like to scumble an issue with irrelevancies. So, like Rchard, I don’t see it as a worthy process. But then, I haven’t looked into the etymology. OK–just checked. Both ‘scum’ and ‘skim’ were mentioned, so maybe we’re onto something.

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    1. I suspect the meaning in art derives from the ‘skimming’ etymology, not sure. Needs more research and I don’t have my dictionaries to hand just now. It’s a good word, though, which deserves more meanings! It’s definitely handy for describing the way politicians always manage to fog issues.

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