verb (used without object)

to drink greedily or excessively.

verb (used with object)

Origin of swill

before 900; Middle English swilen (v.), Old English swilian, swillan
Related formsswill·er, nounun·swilled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for swill

Historical Examples of swill

  • I'd as soon think of telling the Pope of Rome to empty a pail of swill as I would him.

    Cape Cod Stories

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Jones, annoyed at the swill tossed about, had turned from him.

    The Paliser case

    Edgar Saltus

  • One day I cooked a squash, putting the parings in a swill pail.

  • The bread I was able to eat, but could not contrive to drink the swill.

  • “Finish your swill, and then we can talk,” said Rawley, carelessly.

    Northern Lights

    Gilbert Parker

British Dictionary definitions for swill



to drink large quantities of (liquid, esp alcoholic drink); guzzle
(tr often foll by out) mainly British to drench or rinse in large amounts of water
(tr) to feed swill to (pigs, etc)


wet feed, esp for pigs, consisting of kitchen waste, skimmed milk, etc
garbage or refuse, esp from a kitchen
a deep draught of drink, esp beer
any liquid mess
the act of swilling
Derived Formsswiller, 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

Word Origin and History for swill

Old English swilian, swillan "to wash, gargle," with no certain cognates, but probably from Proto-Germanic *sweljanan, related to the root of swallow (v.). Meaning "drink greedily" is from 1530s. Related: Swilled; swilling.


"liquid kitchen refuse fed to pigs," 1550s, from swill (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper