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[swosh, swawsh] /swɒʃ, swɔʃ/
verb (used without object)
to splash, as things in water, or as water does:
Waves were swashing against the piers.
to dash around, as things in violent motion.
to swagger.
verb (used with object)
to dash or cast violently, especially to dash (water or other liquid) around, down, etc.
the surging or dashing, sometimes violent, of water, waves, etc.
the sound made by such dashing:
the thunderous swash of the waves.
the ground over which water washes.
Chiefly Southeastern U.S. a channel of water through or behind a sandbank.
Printing. an extending ornamental flourish, as on letters of certain fonts of italic or cursive type.
Printing. noting or pertaining to a character having a swash:
a swash letter.
Origin of swash
First recorded in 1520-30; imitative Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for swash
Historical Examples
  • Awake Rose he would not, though he knew she would witness the departure of the swash with a satisfaction little short of his own.

    Jack Tier or The Florida Reef James Fenimore Cooper
  • I whispered to him, when I had stepped out into the swash of the rain.

    The Blue Wall Richard Washburn Child
  • Ben Gile began to swash his bucket up and down, up and down, in the stream until the water fairly rocked.

    Little Busybodies Jeanette Augustus Marks and Julia Moody
  • They are getting ready to cut us off this side of the swash channel!

    Macaria Augusta Jane Evans Wilson
  • The swash had again run out of the passage, and was beating up, close to the reef as she dared to go, with a signal flying.

    Jack Tier or The Florida Reef James Fenimore Cooper
  • Over the edge of the swash of a wave I have gathered in oceans and possessed them.

    The Voice of the Machines Gerald Stanley Lee
  • It was past five in the afternoon when the people of the swash began to heave on their purchases as finally disposed.

    Jack Tier or The Florida Reef James Fenimore Cooper
  • Soon an uneasy, dancing motion, welcomes her approach to the swash.

    The Civil War in America William Howard Russell
  • All this was done so rapidly, that united to the confusion on board the swash, no one discovered the mate or the boat.

    Jack Tier or The Florida Reef James Fenimore Cooper
  • Had she seen the swash, no doubt she would have turned into the bay also.

    Jack Tier or The Florida Reef James Fenimore Cooper
British Dictionary definitions for swash


(intransitive) (esp of water or things in water) to wash or move with noisy splashing
(transitive) to dash (a liquid, esp water) against or upon
(intransitive) (archaic) to swagger or bluster
Also called send. the dashing movement or sound of water, such as that of waves on a beach Compare backwash
any other swashing movement or sound
a sandbar washed by the waves
Also called swash channel. a channel of moving water cutting through or running behind a sandbank
  1. swagger or bluster
  2. a swashbuckler
Word Origin
C16: probably of imitative origin
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 swash

1530s, "the fall of a heavy body or blow," possibly from wash with an intensifying s-. It also meant "pig-wash, filth, wet refuse" (1520s) and may have been imitative of the sound of water dashing against solid objects. The meaning "a body of splashing water" is first found 1670s; that of "a dashing or splashing" 1847.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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