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[swawr-th ee, -thee] /ˈswɔr ði, -θi/
adjective, swarthier, swarthiest.
(of skin color, complexion, etc.) dark.
Origin of swarthy
1570-80; unexplained variant of obsolete swarty (swart + -y1)
Related forms
swarthiness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for swarthiness
Historical Examples
  • In the one case the swarthiness would be inheritable, in the other not.

    Applied Eugenics Paul Popenoe and Roswell Hill Johnson
  • His body seemed leaner, because of the swarthiness of the skin.

    The Night-Born Jack London
  • A smile split whitely the swarthiness of Tomaso's brother's face.


    B. M. Bower
  • Berenice was dark, with coloring which inclined to swarthiness; her brow was low, and her eyes small and deeply set.

    Hester's Counterpart Jean K. Baird
  • The sharp sweet bloom of her beauty, fresh in swarthiness, under the whipping Easter, cried out against that loathed inhumanity.

  • In five weeks' time all swarthiness will be removed, and pimples beside.'

    The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci

    Dmitry Sergeyevich Merezhkovsky
  • He had delicate features, redeemed from effeminacy by the swarthiness of his complexion, and his quick intensity of expression.

    North and South Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
  • In singular contrast to a complexion dark almost to swarthiness, his eyes were large and of an intense steel-blue.

  • From the cheek-bones up he looked like an Indian, and expressed a stolid power and swarthiness.

    The Entailed Hat George Alfred Townsend
  • His face was dark almost to swarthiness and his cheeks and chin were smoothly shaven.

British Dictionary definitions for swarthiness


adjective swarthier, swarthiest
dark-hued or dark-complexioned
Derived Forms
swarthily, adverb
swarthiness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from obsolete swarty, from swart + -y1
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 swarthiness



1580s, unexplained alteration of swarty (1570s), from swart + -y (2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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