v. swung (swŭng), swing·ing, swings
1. To move back and forth suspended or as if suspended from above.
2. To hit at something with a sweeping motion of the arm: swung at the ball.
3. To move laterally or in a curve: The car swung over to the curb.
4. To turn in place on or as if on a hinge or pivot.
5. To move along with an easy, swaying gait: swinging down the road.
6. To propel oneself from one place or position to another by grasping a fixed support: swinging through the trees.
7. To ride on a swing.
8. To shift from one attitude, interest, condition, or emotion to another; vacillate.
9. Slang To be put to death by hanging.
a. To have a subtle, intuitively felt rhythm or sense of rhythm.
b. To play with a subtle, intuitively felt sense of rhythm.
a. To be lively, trendy, and exciting.
b. To engage in promiscuous sex.
c. To exchange sex partners. Used especially of married couples.
d. To have a sexual orientation: Which way does he swing?
1. To cause to move back and forth, as on a swing.
2. To cause to move in a broad arc or curve: swing a bat; swung the car over.
a. To cause to move with a sweeping motion: swinging his arms.
b. To lift and convey with a sweeping motion: swung the cargo onto the deck.
4. To suspend so as to sway or turn freely: swung a hammock between two trees.
a. To suspend on hinges: swing a shutter.
b. To cause to turn on hinges: swung the door shut.
6. To cause to shift from one attitude, position, opinion, or condition to another.
a. To manage or arrange successfully: swing a deal.
b. To bring around to the desired result: swing an election.
8. Music To play (music) with a subtle, intuitively felt sense of rhythm.
1. The act or an instance of swinging; movement back and forth or in one particular direction.
2. The sweep or scope of something that swings: The pendulum's swing is 12 inches.
3. A blow or stroke executed with a sweeping motion of the arm.
4. The manner in which one swings something, such as a bat or golf club.
5. A shift from one attitude, position, or condition to another: a swing to conservatism.
6. Freedom of action: The children have free swing in deciding what color to paint their room.
a. A swaying, graceful motion: has a swing to her walk.
b. A sweep back and forth: the swing of a bird across the sky.
8. A course or tour that returns to the starting point: a swing across the state while campaigning.
9. A seat suspended from above, as by ropes, on which one can ride back and forth for recreation.
10. The normal rhythm of life or pace of activities: back in the swing.
11. A steady, vigorous rhythm or movement, as in verse.
12. A regular movement up or down, as in stock prices.
a. A type of popular dance music developed about 1935 and based on jazz but employing a larger band, less improvisation, and simpler harmonic and rhythmic patterns.
b. A ballroom dance performed to this music.
c. A subtle, intuitively felt rhythmic quality or sense of rhythm.
1. Music Relating to or performing swing: a swing band.
2. Determining an outcome; decisive: the swing vote.
in full swing
At the highest level of activity or operation.
[Middle English swingen, to beat, brandish, from Old English swingan, to flog, strike, swing.]
Synonyms: swing, oscillate, sway, rock2, vibrate, waver
These verbs mean literally to move one way and then another, usually back and forth or to and fro. Some verbs often see figurative use: Swing usually applies to arclike movement of something attached at one extremity and free at the other: The ship's lanterns swung violently in the raging storm. Figuratively, it denotes difficulty to decide or act from being drawn by conflicting purposes or emotions: "She swung between disbelief and dread" (Denise Grady).
Oscillate similarly refers to a steady back-and-forth motion, as that of a pendulum, and also can indicate figurative vacillation: "a king ... oscillating between fear of Rome and desire of independence" (Walter Besant).
Sway suggests the movement of something unsteady, light, or flexible: "thousands of the little yellow blossoms all swaying to the light wind" (W.H. Hudson).
To rock is to swing gently or rhythmically or sway or tilt violently: "The ruins of the ancient church seemed actually to rock and threaten to fall" (Sir Walter Scott).
Vibrate implies quick periodic oscillations; it can also suggest trembling, pulsating, or quivering: "Music, when soft voices die, / Vibrates in the memory" (Percy Bysshe Shelley).
Waver suggests unsteady, uncertain movement: "Through the hard, driving rain the sentinel birches wavered like pale, elongated ghosts" (Melissa Hardy).
It also suggests inconstancy or irresolution of feeling or action: "I have a friend who was reared to believe, and he does. But his faith has wavered" (Dana Tierney).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.