Where does swalla come from?
Swalla is a colloquial pronunciation of swallow, a verb found in Old English and with deeper Germanic roots. By the late 1500s, swallow had become a metaphor for “accepting something undesirable,” a sense which continues today in swalla.
In the 1990s, hip-hop artists began widely using swalla to rhyme with words like holla and dolla, dialectical pronunciations of holler and dollar in Black English which reduce a final R to a schwa (uh) sound—or, here, the long O of swallow.
8Ball and MJG’s 1993 song “Pimps” uses swalla as “accept” in a rhyming couplet with dolla: “But I just a young nigga, trying to make a dolla / And the way I live, to some it’s hard to swalla.”
In Missy Elliot’s 1997 song “Gettaway,” swalla refers to drinking alcohol (a bottle of “remmy,” or Rémy Martin cognac): “Auntie, Papa, Smoke lala / Hallah, fala, don’t bother to swalla / This bottle of remmy, got plenty / Of weed.”
In his 2001 “That Bitch is Bad,” rapper Mack 10 notably used swalla in reference to the sexual slang swallow, or “to perform fellatio,” especially in reference to ingesting the ejaculate: “Big girls swalla, little girls spit.” Mack 10’s lyrics imply that women who swalla are superior to their counterparts. Rapper Max B reiterated this implication in his 2008 “Lip Sing”: “…I bet she liked to swalla / that shit makes me wanna holla…”
The hip-hop swalla spread on social media in 2009 and was popularized in the mainstream by singer Jason Derulo’s 2017 hit “Swalla,” featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign. The song draws on swalla‘s sense of “drinking” (“Swalla-la-la [drank]”) to suggest fellatio (“…if you’re feeling thirsty / Come on take a sip ‘cause you know what I’m servin’…” Nicki Minaj notably offers a self-empowered women’s response: “Bad gyal no swalla nuttin.”
“Swalla” reached #29 on the Billboard Hot 100, corresponding with spikes in searches for the term.
Examples of swalla
Who uses swalla?
Swalla is used in dialectical speech and colloquial writing, especially in Black English and notably appearing in hip-hop lyrics and commonly referring to drinking or fellatio. Both men and women may positively use swalla to describe sexual preferences.
Swalla can also negatively characterize having to put up with something unpleasant, alluding both to historic metaphor of swallow and its sexual slang. On social media, a (cock) swallaer can be used as an insult.
The term widely appears online in reference to Derulo’s “Swalla.”
Due to its adult content, many may find swalla vulgar and offensive, especially if the sex act is forced on or expected of a woman.
This is not meant to be a formal definition of swalla like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of swalla that will help our users expand their word mastery.