\ ˈswish How to pronounce swish (audio) \
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 How to pronounce swishingly (audio) \ 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

Peader wheeled his trolley over, and Moira and Mikey followed, Moira idly swishing the sword in the air. Colin Barrett, Harper's magazine, "The Alps," 22 July 2019 Lyles swished a three-pointer with .6 seconds left for a 65-62, suddenly making for an NCAA berth for a team that had lost by 44 points at Albany in January … and enabling history to be made. Vahe Gregorian, kansascity, "K-State's mental task changes after UMBC Retrievers bust through invisible fence | The Kansas City Star," 17 Mar. 2018 Speaking over the wail of a police siren, a grinding organ and cars swishing past the sculpture, art historian Alberto Híjar said the anti-monuments are a way of occupying public space more permanently than with protest marches. Washington Post, "Mexico ‘anti-monuments’ recall dark moments, demand justice," 30 June 2019 Askew, a top target for not only UA but several major colleges as a 6-2 junior point guard, played as advertised, leading the break, swishing in long 3s, and creating for himself for baskets. Richard Obert, azcentral, "College coaches pack Brophy Prep for Mater Dei-Millennium Section 7 high school basketball showdown," 22 June 2019 When the 3-pointer swished through the net at the last second, fellow campers mobbed the boy in celebration as Mack raised both arms. Danielle Lerner, The Courier-Journal, "Spreading the love of the game: A day inside Chris Mack's Louisville basketball camp," 21 June 2019 Add cold water to the bowl to cover the leaves and swish to remove any grit. Soleil Ho, latimes.com, "Off the shelf: The powerfully funky umami of Vietnamese fish paste," 20 June 2019 Wang could be seen chair-dancing to the soulful tunes, and guests clapped along as the group swished across a makeshift dance floor. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "Deepika Padukone, Kendall Jenner, and the Stars of “Ain't Too Proud” Attend the New York-Presbyterian Hospital Youth Anxiety Center Dinner," 18 June 2019 This toddler-level technique involves spreading the cards out on a table, swishing them around with your hands, and then gathering them up. Quanta Magazine, "For Persi Diaconis’ Next Magic Trick …," 14 Apr. 2015

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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Learn More about swish

Dictionary Entries near swish





swish cymbal



Statistics for swish

Last Updated

4 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

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)

British, informal : fashionable and expensive


\ ˈswish How to pronounce swish (audio) \
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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recurring in steady succession

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