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June 3, 2004

Slang of the Week: pondlife (noun)
A lowly person or people

Example:
As far as Jessica was concerned, any girl who wasn’t on the cheerleading squad was pondlife.

Celebrity quote:
“I'd like to say that we're not in the business of pandering to pondlife, but that's a moot point. We don't have an official presence on the Web because every half-baked net-rumour would gain credence if we didn't immediately deny it…”
-Andrew Eldrich of the Sisters of Mercy in a 1997 interview with virgin.net

The Sisters of Mercy have since bowed to the world’s pondlife by putting up their own website, on which you can find this quote. Pondlife, a term coined in the 1990s, comes from the earlier insult pond scum (an unpleasant person) which in turn comes from the even earlier scum.

As for scum, though it’s often used as an insult, it’s also a Standard English word describing the dirty layer of stuff that builds up if you don’t clean your bathtub (or your pond). In the 1980s, it was commonly used to insult young, upwardly mobile professionals in the expression yuppie scum.

Although most similar words for dirty and disgusting materials, like grot and crud, are negative, the synonym grunge had a positive rebirth in the early 90s. Once merely an unpleasant substance, grunge became a hot music trend from Seattle with groups like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Nirvana. While the music got its name from its “dirty” guitar sound, the musicians were also well known for their intentionally grungy hair and clothing.

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