[swawr-th ee, -thee]

adjective, swarth·i·er, swarth·i·est.

(of skin color, complexion, etc.) dark.

Origin of swarthy

1570–80; unexplained variant of obsolete swarty (swart + -y1)
Related formsswarth·i·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for swarthiness

Historical Examples of swarthiness

  • 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.

  • The sharp sweet bloom of her beauty, fresh in swarthiness, under the whipping Easter, cried out against that loathed inhumanity.

British Dictionary definitions for swarthiness


adjective swarthier or swarthiest

dark-hued or dark-complexioned
Derived Formsswarthily, adverbswarthiness, noun

Word Origin for swarthy

C16: from obsolete swarty, from swart + -y 1
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

Word Origin and History for swarthiness



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper