[swosh-ing, swaw-shing]

Origin of swashing

First recorded in 1550–60; swash + -ing2
Related formsswash·ing·ly, adverb


[swosh, swawsh]
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 swashing

Historical Examples of swashing

  • In the distance I could hear the swashing of waves on a beach.

    The Long Voyage

    Carl Richard Jacobi

  • Anne felt the presence of the swashing Festus, and stopped her reading.

    The Trumpet-Major

    Thomas Hardy

  • The Goldwing had taken in so much water that it was swashing about in the standing-room.

    All Adrift

    Oliver Optic

  • There was no sound but the swashing of the water against the boats.

    With Fire and Sword

    Samuel H. M. Byers

  • By swashing them up and down for awhile, I got considerable of the mud removed.

British Dictionary definitions for swashing


  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 swashing



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