[ swil ]
/ swɪl /
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See synonyms for: swill / swilled / swilling on Thesaurus.com

verb (used without object)
to drink greedily or excessively.
verb (used with object)
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Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of swill

before 900; Middle English swilen (v.), Old English swilian, swillan


swiller, nounun·swilled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does swill mean?

Swill commonly refers to writing, talk, or some other kind of content that’s considered to be pointless, worthless, or to have no value.

This figurative sense of the word is used to criticize such things and is based on the original, literal meaning of swill: liquid or partly liquid food for animals, especially kitchen waste fed to pigs.

A close synonym for both of these senses of swill is hogwash.

Swill is also commonly used to refer to a drink that’s considered disgusting or of poor quality, such as a cheap beer.

More generally, it can refer to any garbage, especially liquid or semiliquid food waste. A close synonym for this sense of swill is slop.

Swill can also be used as a verb meaning to drink excessively or too quickly—perhaps like a pig at a trough. A close synonym is guzzle.

Example: I can’t believe they print this swill, and I can’t believe people pay to read it!

Where does swill come from?

The first records of the word swill come from before 900. It comes from the Old English verb swilian, meaning “to wash out.”

Swill is used to dismiss writing and other content (such as political rhetoric) that’s poorly done or just plain bad. The words hogwash, slop, garbage, and trash can all be used to mean the same thing. The same idea is behind calling a drink swill. The metaphor is that such things are of the lowest possible quality and only fit for those who will consume anything—even garbage. In this way, calling something swill is often a criticism both of the person or people who created it and the people who consume it.

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What are some other forms of swill?

  • swiller (noun)

What are some synonyms for swill?

What are some words that often get used in discussing swill?


How is swill used in real life?

Swill is most commonly used in a figurative way to refer to writing and drinks considered especially bad.



Try using swill!

Which of the following words is least likely to be used to describe something considered swill?

A. disgusting
B. excellent
C. trashy
D. stupid

How to use swill in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for swill

/ (swɪl) /


Derived forms of swill

swiller, noun

Word Origin for swill

Old English swilian to wash out
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