\ ˈswish \
swished; swishing; swishes

Definition of swish

 (Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to move, pass, swing, or whirl with the sound of a swish

transitive verb

1 : to move, cut, or strike with a swish the horse swished its tail
2 : to make (a basketball shot) so that the ball falls through the rim without touching it swished a 3-point jumper



Definition of swish (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : a prolonged hissing sound (as of a whip cutting the air)
b : a light sweeping or brushing sound
2 : a swishing movement
3 slang, usually disparaging + offensive : an effeminate homosexual



Definition of swish (Entry 3 of 3)

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Other Words from swish


swisher noun
swishingly \ ˈswi-​shiŋ-​lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for swish

Synonyms: Verb

fizz, fizzle, hiss, sizzle, whish, whiz (or whizz)

Synonyms: Noun

fizz, hiss, sizzle, whish, whiz (or whizz)

Synonyms: Adjective

à la mode (also a la mode), au courant, chic, cool [slang], exclusive, fashionable, fresh [slang], happening, hip, in, modish, sharp, smart, snappy, stylish, supercool, swell, trendy, voguish

Antonyms: Adjective

dowdy, out, outmoded, styleless, unchic, uncool, unfashionable, unmodish, unstylish

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Examples of swish in a Sentence


He watched as the windshield wipers swished back and forth. The horse's tail swished back and forth. The horse swished its tail back and forth.


the steady swish of the windshield wipers the mare brushed away the flies with a sweeping swish of her tail


a trendy boutique filled with swish accessories for the urban fashionista
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But Gabriel kept swishing shots from deep and the Wildcats iced the game at the free-throw line, making 20 of 28 overall. Fletcher Page, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky basketball drops Alabama, advances to fifth-straight SEC Tournament final," 10 Mar. 2018 Instead, McMahon threw a pass to the wing, where Jordan Nwora's off-ball movement put him a great spot to swish a 3-pointer. Jeff Greer, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville basketball stops Middle Tennessee State, advances to NIT quarterfinals," 18 Mar. 2018 James looked away from the hoop as the shot swished through, and Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue reflexively called timeout. Ben Golliver, SI.com, "Kevin Durant's Déjà Vu Dagger Caps the Best Game of His Life," 7 June 2018 The image that sticks is another wide-open shooter swishing another jumper, and Self shaking the palms of his hands on either side of his temples, presumably to keep from punching someone, or himself. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "After loss to Villanova, the right perspective will take time for Kansas basketball | The Kansas City Star," 31 Mar. 2018 With the shot clock winding down, Oladipo drove on Olynyk, then stepped back and swished a 25-footer to put the Pacers ahead, 106-100, with 1:21 left. Clifton Brown, Indianapolis Star, "3 takeaways as the Pacers clinch a playoff berth," 25 Mar. 2018 Image The research indicates that carb rinsing can enhance performance when fluids are swished around the mouth for five to 10 seconds, the longer the better as more oral receptors come into contact with carbohydrates. New York Times, "That Spitting Thing at the World Cup? It’s Probably ‘Carb Rinsing’," 11 July 2018 Ginobili gave it back, and Horry swished the biggest shot of his Spurs tenure with 5.8 seconds remaining in overtime to produce a 96-95 series-swinging win. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "Championship snapshots: The top 10 Finals moments in Spurs history," 2 June 2018 Thompson delivered the ball to Kelan Martin, who swished his fifth 3-pointer. David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "Butler freshman Aaron Thompson poised, productive in NCAA debut," 16 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

After Kyle Korver of the Cavaliers missed an open 3-pointer, Durant spotted up from the top of the arc — swish — for a 114-113 lead. Scott Cacciola, New York Times, "Late Surge Puts Warriors One Step From Postseason Perfection," 8 June 2017 That goes especially for star Johnny Depp, whose Captain Jack Sparrow remains an unchanging and buffoonish blend of swash and swish. Robert W. Butler, kansascity.com, "That sinking feeling: ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 5’," 24 May 2017 Swish swish sounds like it is written by 8 yr old kid or Donald Trump. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, "Watch Katy Perry Finally Explain Taylor Swift Beef, Sing 'Swish, Swish' & More Hits in 'Carpool Karaoke'," 23 May 2017 In a hurricane, those waves can come in quick, short bursts as powerful thunderstorms around the storm’s eye wall swish air up and down like a plunger in a toilet bowl. Jenny Staletovich, miamiherald, "UM researchers find new way to measure hurricanes: ‘gravity waves’," 17 May 2017 The swish was almost inevitable from the area of the court that is his sweet spot. Bill Livingston, cleveland.com, "Kyrie Irving's late burst shows Cleveland Cavaliers' firepower: Bill Livingston (photos, video)," 8 May 2017 The icing on the cake was the little details that matter: the follow through, the curling down of fingers, the backspin, the holding of the follow through — and of course, the swish. Mirin Fader, Orange County Register, "Baker relishes scoring role for Capistrano Valley," 1 Feb. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Opened in 2005 but relocated into a new space just last year, a maze of secluded booths and private dining rooms unfolds beyond the swish black marble counter wrapping the open kitchen that diners first encounter upon entering. Davey Young, Condé Nast Traveler, "What To Do in Shibuya: Our Guide," 5 Mar. 2018 This week’s openings Branzino | Rittenhouse Luan Toto’s swish Italian BYOB is back at 261 S. 17th St., two years after a fire. Michael Klein, Philly.com, "Let's Eat: Smile and order lunch," 4 Apr. 2018 At night, a few would wait outside a swish restaurant in my neighborhood. Lane Hartill, The Christian Science Monitor, "A journey from distrust to teammates," 4 Apr. 2018 More: Michigan basketball's miracle win steeped in swag, ended in swishRobinson was on the bench after fouling out against Houston, when Jordan Poole hit a miraculous 3-pointer. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan basketball: Duncan Robinson's defense put to test in Sweet 16," 22 Mar. 2018 Manhattan’s hospitals, with their swish reception desks and menus, can seem like hotels compared with London’s bleached Victorian structures. The Economist, "Which firms profit most from America’s health-care system," 15 Mar. 2018 The Best All-Arounder Surface Laptop (i5, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD), $1,299 This device isn't as swish as the transforming, flexible computers that made the Surface brand famous, but bear with me for a second. Wired Staff, WIRED, "Which Microsoft Surface Should You Buy?," 14 Mar. 2018 Previously, Vidi himself operated Frederick’s, a swish Italian supper club, on the site for two dozen years. Michael Klein, Philly.com, "Kanella South's space is being offered for rent," 28 Feb. 2018 If a toothbrush and toothpaste aren’t readily available, swish and rinse teeth thoroughly with water. Michael Suchar, Philly.com, "3 tips from a dentist to keep Valentine's Day sweet for kids' teeth," 13 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'swish.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of swish


1756, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1820, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1766, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for swish




origin unknown

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Dictionary Entries near swish





swish cymbal



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Time Traveler for swish

The first known use of swish was in 1756

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More Definitions for swish



English Language Learners Definition of swish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move with or cause (something) to move with a soft sweeping or brushing sound



English Language Learners Definition of swish (Entry 2 of 2)

: fashionable and expensive


\ ˈswish \
swished; swishing

Kids Definition of swish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to make, move, or strike with a soft sweeping or brushing sound The horse swished its tail.



Kids Definition of swish (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a soft sweeping or brushing sound
2 : a movement that produces a sweeping or brushing sound

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More from Merriam-Webster on swish

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with swish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for swish

Spanish Central: Translation of swish

Nglish: Translation of swish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of swish for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about swish

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