: a portion of ground covered with grass
: the grassy surface of land
swarded adjective

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Sward sprouted from the Old English sweard or swearth, meaning "skin" or "rind." It was originally used as a term for the skin of the body before being extended to another surface—that of the earth's. The word's specific grassy sense dates back more than 500 years, but it rarely crops up in contemporary writing. The term, however, has been planted in a number of old novels, such as in this quote from Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles: "The sun was so near the ground, and the sward so flat, that the shadows of Clare and Tess would stretch a quarter of a mile ahead of them...."

Examples of sward in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The soft Smyrna rug in the hall yields to the tread like a mossy sward, while a circular art glass window fills the hall with a pleasant subdued light. Merrie Monteagudo, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Sep. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sward.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Old English sweard, swearth skin, rind; akin to Middle High German swart skin, hide

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sward was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near sward

Cite this Entry

“Sward.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sward. Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


: the grassy surface of land : turf

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