adjective, superlative swing·ing·est.


the activity or act of a person who swings.
  1. the act or practice of being free and uninhibited sexually.
  2. the exchanging of spouses for sex.

Origin of swinging

First recorded in 1550–60; swing1 + -ing2
Related formsswing·ing·ly, adverb



verb (used with object), swung, swing·ing.

to cause to move to and fro, sway, or oscillate, as something suspended from above: to swing one's arms in walking.
to cause to move in alternate directions or in either direction around a fixed point, on an axis, or on a line of support, as a door on hinges.
to move (the hand or something held) with an oscillating or rotary movement: to swing one's fists; to swing a club around one's head.
Aeronautics. to pull or turn (a propeller) by hand, especially in order to start the engine.
to turn in a new direction in a curve, as if around a central point: to swing the car into the driveway.
to suspend so as to hang freely, as a hammock or a door.
Informal. to influence or win over; manage or arrange as desired: to swing votes; to swing a business deal.
to direct, change, or shift (one's interest, opinion, support, etc.).
to turn (a ship or aircraft) to various headings in order to check compass deviation.

verb (used without object), swung, swing·ing.

to move or sway to and fro, as a pendulum or other suspended object.
to move to and fro in a swing, as for recreation.
to move in alternate directions or in either direction around a point, an axis, or a line of support, as a gate on its hinges.
to move in a curve, as around a corner or central point: The highway swings to the east.
to move with a free, swaying motion, as soldiers on the march.
to be suspended so as to hang freely, as a bell or hammock.
to move by grasping a support with the hands and drawing up the arms or using the momentum of the swaying body: a monkey swinging through trees.
to change or shift one's attention, interest, opinion, condition, etc.: He swung from mere indifference to outright scorn.
to hit at someone or something, with the hand or something grasped in the hand: The batter swung and struck out.
  1. to be characterized by a modern, lively atmosphere: Las Vegas swings all year.
  2. to be stylish, trendy, hip, etc., especially in pursuing enjoyment.
  3. to engage uninhibitedly in sexual activity.
  4. (of married couples) to exchange partners for sexual activity.
Informal. to suffer death by hanging: He'll swing for the crime.


the act, manner, or progression of swinging; movement in alternate directions or in a particular direction.
the amount or extent of such movement: to correct the swing of a pendulum.
a curving movement or course.
a moving of the body with a free, swaying motion, as in walking.
a blow or stroke with the hand or an object grasped in the hands: His swing drove the ball over the fence.
a change or shift in attitude, opinion, behavior, etc.
a steady, marked rhythm or movement, as of verse or music.
a regular upward or downward movement in the price of a commodity or of a security, or in any business activity.
  1. a work period coming between the regular day and night shifts.
  2. a change by a group of workers from working one shift to working another.
freedom of action: to have free swing in carrying out a project.
active operation; progression: to get into the swing of things.
something that is swung or that swings.
a seat suspended from above by means of a loop of rope or between ropes or rods, on which one may sit and swing to and fro for recreation.
the maximum diameter of the work machinable in a certain lathe or other machine tool.


of or relating to a swing.
capable of determining the outcome, as of an election; deciding, as in swing vote; swing voter.
designed or constructed to permit swinging or hanging.
acting to relieve other workers when needed, as at night.

Origin of swing

before 900; Middle English swingen (verb), Old English swingan; cognate with German schwingen
Related formsswing·a·ble, adjective

Synonyms for swing

Synonym study

10. Swing, sway, oscillate, rock suggest a movement back and forth. Swing expresses the comparatively regular motion to and fro of a body supported from the end or ends, especially from above: A lamp swings from the ceiling. To sway is to swing gently and is used especially of fixed objects or of persons: Young oaks sway in the breeze. Oscillate refers to the smooth, regular, alternating movement of a body within certain limits between two fixed points. Rock indicates the slow and regular movement back and forth of a body, as on curved supports: A cradle rocks.




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.
the rhythmic element that excites dancers and listeners to move in time to jazz music.


of, relating to, or characteristic of swing: a swing record.

verb (used with object), swung, swing·ing.

to play (music) in the style of swing.

Origin of swing

special use of swing1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for swinging

Contemporary Examples of swinging

Historical Examples of swinging

  • My "job" could not be "swung" by anyone else, since everyone else is essential to the swinging of his own.

  • So he caught their minds as he had caught the Stick, swinging back from disaster.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • And Yates, swinging drowsily in his hammock, was no less gratified.

  • A quarter of a mile from the finish the horses raced into a swinging stride.


    W. A. Fraser

  • Already the swinging of the censers could be heard coming from the depths of the church.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for swinging



moving rhythmically to and fro
slang modern and lively


slang the practice of swapping sexual partners in a group, esp habitually
Derived Formsswingingly, adverb


verb swings, swinging or swung

to move or cause to move rhythmically to and fro, as a free-hanging object; sway
(intr) to move, walk, etc, with a relaxed and swaying motion
to pivot or cause to pivot, as on a hinge
to move or cause to move in a curvethe car swung around the bend
to move or cause to move by suspending or being suspended
to hang or be hung so as to be able to turn freely
(intr) slang to be hangedhe'll swing for it
to alter or cause to alter habits, a course, etc
(tr) informal to influence or manipulate successfullyI hope he can swing the deal
(tr foll by up) to raise or hoist, esp in a sweeping motion
(intr often foll by at) to hit out or strike (at), esp with a sweeping motion
(tr) to wave (a weapon, etc) in a sweeping motion; flourish
to arrange or play (music) with the rhythmically flexible and compulsive quality associated with jazz
(intr) (of popular music, esp jazz, or of the musicians who play it) to have this quality
slang to be lively and modern
(intr) slang to swap sexual partners in a group, esp habitually
(intr) cricket to bowl (a ball) with swing or (of a ball) to move with a swing
to turn (a ship or aircraft) in order to test compass error
swing both ways slang to enjoy sexual partners of both sexes
swing the lead informal to malinger or make up excuses


the act or manner of swinging or the distance covered while swinginga wide swing
a sweeping stroke or blow
boxing a wide punch from the side similar to but longer than a hook
cricket the lateral movement of a bowled ball through the air
any free-swaying motion
any curving movement; sweep
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
prosody a steady distinct rhythm or cadence in prose or verse
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
US informal free scope; freedom of activity
mainly US a circular tour
Canadian a tour of a particular area or region
Canadian (in the North) a train of freight sleighs or canoes
go with a swing to go well; be successful
in full swing at the height of activity
swings and roundabouts equal advantages and disadvantages

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 swinging

"uninhibited," 1958, present participle adjective from swing (v.).



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.



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

swinging 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.

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 swinging


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
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.