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[sweyl] /sweɪl/
noun, Chiefly Northeastern U.S.
a low place in a tract of land, usually moister and often having ranker vegetation than the adjacent higher land.
a valleylike intersection of two slopes in a piece of land.
Origin of swale
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English; originally a cool, shady spot, perhaps < Old Norse svalr cool, or svalir a covered porch Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for swale
Historical Examples
  • No breath of air stirred the foliage or the bending rushes in the swale.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • "Oh, it's just that swale to the right of the driveway," said Rufus.

    In Apple-Blossom Time

    Clara Louise Burnham
  • "He may be in the swale," muttered the watcher as he stood with his eye to the loop-hole.

  • There are areas of swale, or wet bottom-lands, which may be drained to advantage.

    A Report on Washington Territory William Henry Ruffner
  • Myton is on the swale, near its junction with the Ure, and so a little east of Boroughbridge.

    The Bruce John Barbour
  • Helen urged her horse after them and they broke across a corner of the swale to the woods.

  • The campoodies are near the watercourses, but never in the swale of the stream.

  • Usually straw, meadow hay, or swale hay is used for bedding.

    Ducks and Geese Harry M. Lamon
  • A group of men were gathered in the swale between the shack and Shanty Town.

    The Plow-Woman Eleanor Gates
  • To Dallas, laying the blue-stem of the swale, the hours of the morning went slowly.

    The Plow-Woman Eleanor Gates
British Dictionary definitions for swale


(mainly US)
  1. a moist depression in a tract of land, usually with rank vegetation
  2. (as modifier): swell and swale topography
Word Origin
C16: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse svala to chill
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for swale

"low, hollow place, often boggy," 1580s, special use of Scottish swaill "low, hollow place," or dialectal East Anglian swale "shady place" (mid-15c.); both probably from Old Norse svalr "cool," from Proto-Germanic *swalaz.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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