Origin of swill
OTHER WORDS FROM swillswiller, nounun·swilled, adjective
Words nearby swill
MORE ABOUT SWILL
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.
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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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.
Eating a wrap in EAT on my lonesome. Have the Daily Mail next to me but I'd rather stare at the coffee machine than read that swill.
— David Ames (@semadivad) November 3, 2010
Why are so many celebrities being bamboozled into making terrible wines? They have the money, the resources.. I just can’t believe they all want to make commercial swill. Why aren’t they doing the research?
— Victoria James (@Geturgrapeon) July 16, 2020
It always surprises me how many people think Mountain Dew is good. They probably like that Sunny Delight stuff, too. It’s swill!
— Kevin Kelly (@Kevinisaplaceo1) July 20, 2020
Try using swill!
Which of the following words is least likely to be used to describe something considered swill?
How to use swill in a sentence
That convenience is key when you’re trying to resist the allure of pricy cafe brew or nasty-but-easy gas station swill.
The Los Angeles Police Department, a swill of American authoritarianism if there has ever been one, saw the 1984 Los Angeles Games as an opportunity.The IOC’s Treatment of Missing Chinese Tennis Star Peng Shuai Is Disturbingly On-Brand|Corbin Smith|November 29, 2021|The Daily Beast
The cinnamon-flavored swill has been recalled in Europe over a chemical found in antifreeze.Europeans Recall Fireball Whiskey Over a Sweetener Also Used in Antifreeze|Tim Mak|October 28, 2014|DAILY BEAST
For millions of Americans, it represents bottom-shelf, super-market swill of college parties yore.Taking Boxed Wine Seriously: It’s Not Just for Hobos and Teenagers Anymore|Jordan Salcito|March 15, 2014|DAILY BEAST
As one friend remarked, when I confessed that I liked Wagner, “Megan has an unusually high tolerance for bombastic swill”.
It was when one of the table-legs overturned the swill-pail that the long pent-up storm burst in a torrent of invective.
The corners of its mouth are permanently turned up so that it can hardly stop smiling even when it is squealing for swill.
She was so full that we were afraid to give her the usual ration of swill for fear she would swell up and burst.
Lightning flashed and forked athwart the clouded firmament, from which fell rain, not in drops, but sheets—a very swill of it.The Vee-Boers|Mayne Reid
Then I went goes in a quick way to the singing creek where the willows grow, to get the swill-smells off.The Story of Opal|Opal Whiteley