[swiv-uh l]


verb (used with object), swiv·eled, swiv·el·ing or (especially British) swiv·elled, swiv·el·ling.

to turn or pivot on or as if on a swivel: He swiveled his chair around.
to fasten by a swivel; furnish with a swivel.

verb (used without object), swiv·eled, swiv·el·ing or (especially British) swiv·elled, swiv·el·ling.

to turn on or if as on a swivel.

Origin of swivel

1275–1325; Middle English (noun), equivalent to swiv- (weak stem of Old English swīfan to revolve; cognate with Old Norse svīfa to turn) + -el instrumental suffix
Related formsswiv·el·like, adjectiveun·swiv·el, verb (used with object), un·swiv·eled, un·swiv·el·ing or (especially British) un·swiv·elled, un·swiv·el·ling.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for swivel

pivot, rotate, revolve, whirl, hinge, turn, pirouette

Examples from the Web for swivel

Contemporary Examples of swivel

  • Swivel Store Spice Rack  Okay, so this is an As Seen On Television product.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The 2012 Holiday Kitchen Gift Guide

    Megan McArdle

    December 13, 2012

  • He sits, leans back in his swivel chair and begins to discuss his SATC character, Aleksandr Petrovsky.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Baryshnikov Unbound

    Ross Kenneth Urken

    May 17, 2009

Historical Examples of swivel

  • He whirled about in his swivel chair, and blew a cloud of smoke from his mouth.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • The fat man grunted and hoisted himself out of the swivel chair.

    Dream Town

    Henry Slesar

  • Even as they watched the gun moved on its swivel base, whirring underneath.

    The Gun

    Philip K. Dick

  • Smoke-ring cannon for hail storms, swivel mounted, bow or stern.

    With The Night Mail

    Rudyard Kipling

  • From the platform of the swivel they looked abroad over the sea.

British Dictionary definitions for swivel



a coupling device which allows an attached object to turn freely
such a device made of two parts which turn independently, such as a compound link of a chain
  1. a pivot on which is mounted a gun that may be swung from side to side in a horizontal plane
  2. Also called: swivel gunthe gun itself

verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled

to turn or swing on or as if on a pivot
(tr) to provide with, secure by, or support with a swivel
Derived Formsswivel-like, adjective

Word Origin for swivel

C14: from Old English swīfan to turn; see swift
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 swivel

c.1300, from frequentative form of stem of Old English verb swifan "to move in a course, sweep" (a class I strong verb), from Proto-Germanic *swipanan (cf. Old Frisian swiva "to be uncertain," Old Norse svifa "to rove, ramble, drift"), from PIE root *swei- "swing, bend, move in a sweeping manner." Middle English swive was the principal slang for "to have sexual intercourse with," a sense that developed c.1300. This probably explains why, though the root is verbal, the verb swivel is not attested in Modern English until 1794. Cf. Middle English phrase smal-swivinge men "men who copulate infrequently."


1794, from swivel (n.). Related: Swiveled; swiveling; swivelled; swivelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper