What is Scoriac? (Slag, Dross and Clinkers?)

Edgar Allan Poe
Image via Wikipedia

Recently, I’ve been reading The Pit and Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe, a masterpiece of Gothic literature during the romantic period of literature.  Upon reading, a few of the poems, I came across the word ‘scoriac’ in the second stanza of the poem, Ululume. The stanza goes like this:

Here once, through an alley Titanic,
Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul—
Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
There were days when my heart was volcanic
As the scoriac rivers that roll—
As the lavas that restlessly roll
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek,
In the ultimate climes of the Pole—
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
In the realms of the Boreal Pole.

(NB. If you’re living in the United States or many other countries with Public Domain laws you can grab sets of poems by Edgar Alan Poe for free at Project Gutenburg)

The Oxford English Dictionary has two definitions of scoria, the one we’re looking at being:

“1. The slag or dross remaining after the smelting out of a metal from its ore.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary if we trace back the words to its origin, it was a Latin term which came from the Greek skōria. Skōria then coming from the word meaning skōr, which, wait for it, is a word which means excrement. That’s right excrement (human waste) has managed to change into slag (metal waste).


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