Podcast swill

Printable Version
Pronunciation: swil Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A mixture of table scraps and liquids fed to livestock, particularly hogs; slops. 2. A big swallow of liquor, a great swig. 3. Terrible-tasting food or drink. 4. Nonsense, rubbish, balderdash, blather, bunkum, claptrap, drivel, poppycock, twaddle.

Notes: We didn't want to overburden you, so we did not include the verbal meaning of this Good Word but it may be used in the sense of drinking greedily and unceremoniously. Those who do so are swillers. There are no further derivations other than the adjectival and noun uses of the participle, swilling.

In Play: Today's word is used mostly in reference to a bad-tasting drink of some kind: "I never go to Kofi's Cafe because I can't stand the swill they call tea over there." It could also refer to bad food, though. It can also refer to a large swig: "That one deep swill from Beauregard's jug made Moby cross-eyed for life." Finally, it is a good substitute for all the words meaning "nonsense": "If you believe all that swill Mortimer tells you, you will never be a success."

Word History: Old English had several words related to liquids that apparently shared the same origin. Swelgan meant "to swallow" while swilian meant "to wash out, gargle". The G in words like swelgan regularly changed to -ow (OE folgian became today's follow and holgh became hollow). But the G apparently dropped out in some dialects, leaving swel-, which may well have become today's Good Word later on. If the L dropped out in other dialects, we would expect swig today and, sure enough, we have it! (Dr. Lyn Laboriel is a swell friend whom we thank today for suggesting this, well, sort of Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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