[swiv-uh l]
  1. a fastening device that allows the thing fastened to turn around freely upon it, especially to turn in a full circle.
  2. such a device consisting of two parts, each of which turns around independently, as a compound link of a chain, one part of which turns freely in the other by means of a headed pin or the like.
  3. a pivoted support allowing a gun to turn around in a horizontal plane.
  4. a swivel gun.
  5. a device attached to a loom and used as a shuttle to weave extra threads in the production of small figures, especially dots.
verb (used with object), swiv·eled, swiv·el·ing or (especially British) swiv·elled, swiv·el·ling.
  1. to turn or pivot on or as if on a swivel: He swiveled his chair around.
  2. 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.
  1. 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. 2018

Related Words for swiveled

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

Examples from the Web for swiveled

Contemporary Examples of swiveled

  • Cash teased his hair into a pompadour, swiveled his hips, amped up his drawl, and belted out a tune worthy of a quarter million.

  • He swiveled his head to fix me with his gaze, and then turned it back to the road.

  • When we met, she was wearing a purple tank top and dark jeans and giggling as she swiveled back and forth to her interpreter.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Hugo and the Hottie

    Bryan Curtis

    October 8, 2009

  • He waved at onlookers below, then swiveled and waved at others on the porch outside the National Gallery.

    The Daily Beast logo
    London's Living Sculptures

    Anthony Haden-Guest

    August 6, 2009

Historical Examples of swiveled

  • He had swiveled dangerously on the Secretary of the Treasury again.

    The Adventurer

    Cyril M. Kornbluth

  • Coleman swiveled around in his chair and squinted at the wall clock.

    The Velvet Glove

    Harry Harrison

  • He swiveled his head to examine the boy who had picked up the books.

    The Best Made Plans

    Everett B. Cole

  • But the machine, roaring into sudden life, swiveled rapidly and threw him off.

  • He swiveled his chair around and regarded them with interested eyes.

    Smugglers' Reef

    John Blaine

British Dictionary definitions for swiveled


  1. a coupling device which allows an attached object to turn freely
  2. 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
  1. to turn or swing on or as if on a pivot
  2. (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 swiveled



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