[swosh, swawsh]
See more synonyms for swash on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object)
  1. to splash, as things in water, or as water does: Waves were swashing against the piers.
  2. to dash around, as things in violent motion.
  3. to swagger.
verb (used with object)
  1. to dash or cast violently, especially to dash (water or other liquid) around, down, etc.
  1. the surging or dashing, sometimes violent, of water, waves, etc.
  2. the sound made by such dashing: the thunderous swash of the waves.
  3. the ground over which water washes.
  4. Chiefly Southeastern U.S. a channel of water through or behind a sandbank.
  5. Printing. an extending ornamental flourish, as on letters of certain fonts of italic or cursive type.
  1. Printing. noting or pertaining to a character having a swash: a swash letter.

Origin of swash

First recorded in 1520–30; imitative
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for swash

Historical Examples of swash

  • The feeble "swash" that answered the shake was not reassuring.

    Thankful's Inheritance

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • They did as they were bidden, and then the little man said, “Swash, swish!”

    Irish Fairy Tales

    Edmond Leamy

  • They did as they were bidden, and then the little man said, "Swash, swish!"

    The Golden Spears

    Edmund Leamy

  • 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

  • I whispered to him, when I had stepped out into the swash of the rain.

    The Blue Wall

    Richard Washburn Child

British Dictionary definitions for swash


  1. (intr) (esp of water or things in water) to wash or move with noisy splashing
  2. (tr) to dash (a liquid, esp water) against or upon
  3. (intr) archaic to swagger or bluster
  1. Also called: send the dashing movement or sound of water, such as that of waves on a beachCompare backwash
  2. any other swashing movement or sound
  3. a sandbar washed by the waves
  4. Also called: swash channel a channel of moving water cutting through or running behind a sandbank
  5. archaic
    1. swagger or bluster
    2. a swashbuckler

Word Origin for swash

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

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