• swank •
swængk • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun
Meaning: 1. (Adjective) Posh, stylish, fashionable. 2. (Noun) Pretentiousness, swagger, ostentation. 3. (Noun) A pretentious, ostentatious person.
Notes: Today's word started its life as a noun that gave rise to an adjective swanky, still alive today. Its comparatives are swankier and swankiest; its noun, swankiness. (By the way, Hillary Swank is an American film actress who has won two Academy Awards.)
In Play: Settings are usually characterized as 'swank': "As soon as he stepped into the swank offices of Sterling Silverman, Hedrick knew that he had picked the right lawyer." However, anything that can be posh may be called 'swank': "Lydia Potts came to the door dressed only in a swank silk housecoat draped limply over her shoulders."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from PIE sweng- "to swing, turn, toss", which also made its way into Sanskrit as svajati "entwine". But this word flourished only in the Germanic languages: Old English swancor "supple, pliant", Middle High German swanc "flexible, slim" and swenken "to sway, turn, swing". These words changed in English to today's word and in Modern German to schwingan "to swing" and schwanken "sway, fluctuate". We also have evidence of this word without the Fickle N: Norwegian svaie "wobble, sway", the kissing cousin of English sway. The Old Norse word sveggja "swing, sway" was borrowed into English as swag, which went on to become swagger. (Wish I could offer a swanker thanks than this to William Hupy, who kindly recommended today's Good Word.)