• synonyms


  1. Also called Big Band music, swing music. a style of jazz, popular especially in the 1930s and often arranged for a large dance band, marked by a smoother beat and more flowing phrasing than Dixieland and having less complex harmonies and rhythms than modern jazz.
  2. the rhythmic element that excites dancers and listeners to move in time to jazz music.
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  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of swing: a swing record.
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verb (used with object), swung, swing·ing.
  1. to play (music) in the style of swing.
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Origin of swing

special use of swing1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for swing-music


verb swings, swinging or swung
  1. to move or cause to move rhythmically to and fro, as a free-hanging object; sway
  2. (intr) to move, walk, etc, with a relaxed and swaying motion
  3. to pivot or cause to pivot, as on a hinge
  4. to move or cause to move in a curvethe car swung around the bend
  5. to move or cause to move by suspending or being suspended
  6. to hang or be hung so as to be able to turn freely
  7. (intr) slang to be hangedhe'll swing for it
  8. to alter or cause to alter habits, a course, etc
  9. (tr) informal to influence or manipulate successfullyI hope he can swing the deal
  10. (tr foll by up) to raise or hoist, esp in a sweeping motion
  11. (intr often foll by at) to hit out or strike (at), esp with a sweeping motion
  12. (tr) to wave (a weapon, etc) in a sweeping motion; flourish
  13. to arrange or play (music) with the rhythmically flexible and compulsive quality associated with jazz
  14. (intr) (of popular music, esp jazz, or of the musicians who play it) to have this quality
  15. slang to be lively and modern
  16. (intr) slang to swap sexual partners in a group, esp habitually
  17. (intr) cricket to bowl (a ball) with swing or (of a ball) to move with a swing
  18. to turn (a ship or aircraft) in order to test compass error
  19. swing both ways slang to enjoy sexual partners of both sexes
  20. swing the lead informal to malinger or make up excuses
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  1. the act or manner of swinging or the distance covered while swinginga wide swing
  2. a sweeping stroke or blow
  3. boxing a wide punch from the side similar to but longer than a hook
  4. cricket the lateral movement of a bowled ball through the air
  5. any free-swaying motion
  6. any curving movement; sweep
  7. something that swings or is swung, esp a suspended seat on which a person may sit and swing back and forth
    1. a kind of popular dance music influenced by jazz, usually played by big bands and originating in the 1930s
    2. (as modifier)swing music
  8. See swingbeat
  9. prosody a steady distinct rhythm or cadence in prose or verse
  10. informal the normal round or paceget into the swing of things
    1. a fluctuation, as in some business activity, voting pattern etc
    2. (as modifier)able to bring about a swing in a voting patternswing party
    3. (as modifier)having a mixed voting history, and thus becoming a target for political election campaignersa swing state
  11. US informal free scope; freedom of activity
  12. mainly US a circular tour
  13. Canadian a tour of a particular area or region
  14. Canadian (in the North) a train of freight sleighs or canoes
  15. go with a swing to go well; be successful
  16. in full swing at the height of activity
  17. swings and roundabouts equal advantages and disadvantages
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Word Origin for swing

Old English swingan; related to Old Frisian swinga, Old High German swingan
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 swing-music



Old English swingan "to rush, fling oneself," from Proto-Germanic *swenganan (cf. Old Saxon, Old High German swingan, Old Frisian swinga, German schwingen "to swing, swingle, oscillate") denoting "violent circulatory motion." The meaning "move freely back and forth" is first recorded 1540s. Related: Swung; swinging. Swing shift first recorded 1941, typically 4 p.m. to midnight.

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late 14c., "a stroke with a weapon," from swing (v.). Sense of "an apparatus that swings" is first recorded 1680s. Meaning "shift of public opinion" is from 1899. The meaning "variety of big dance-band music with a swinging rhythm" is first recorded 1933, though the sense has been traced back to 1888; its heyday was from mid-30s to mid-40s. Phrase in full swing "in total effect or operation" (1560s) probably is from bell-ringing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

swing-music in Culture


A kind of jazz generally played by a “Big Band” and characterized by a lively rhythm suitable for dancing. The bands of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller played swing.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with swing-music


In addition to the idiom beginning with swing

  • swing into action

also see:

  • get into the swing of things
  • in full swing
  • not enough room to swing a car
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.