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The swank American actor and producer Hilary Swank at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France

Perhaps from swanky, or perhaps from an Old English root, related to the Scots swank and the Middle High German swanken, modern German schwanken (to sway).



swank (comparative swanker, superlative swankest)

  1. (dated) Fashionably elegant.
    I went to a swank party last night.


swank (plural swanks)

  1. A fashionably elegant person.
    He's such a swank.
  2. Ostentation; bravado.
    The parvenu was full of swank.


swank (third-person singular simple present swanks, present participle swanking, simple past and past participle swanked)

  1. To swagger, to show off.
    Looks like she's going to swank in, flashing her diamonds, then swank out to another party.
    • 1953, Saul Bellow, chapter 5, in The Adventures of Augie March: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Viking Press, OCLC 279587:
      He was still an old galliard, with white Buffalo Bill vandyke, and he swanked around, still healthy of flesh, in white suits, looking things over with big sex-amused eyes.
    • 1982 November, James Wolcott, “Your Flick of Flicks: My Favorite Year Recalls the Comical Days of Early TV, when the Programs were so Good You Didn’t Want to Go to the Movies”, in Texas Monthly, volume 10, number 11, Austin, Tx.: Texas Monthly, Inc., ISSN 0148-7736, page 219:
      [Peter] O'Toole does for this movie [My Favorite Year] what [Alan] Swann does for the cast and crew of Comedy Cavalcade: he swanks in whenever there's a lull in the action and with a dapper flare of his cuffs sets off smiles, sighs, palpitations.
    • 1985, Hla Pe, quoting Ù Tò (J[ohn William Alan] Okell, transl., Yamá Yagan (1933), volume I, page 5), “Burmese Poetry, 1450–1885: Its Scope and Nature”, in Burma: Literature, Historiography, Scholarship, Language, Life, and Buddhism, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, ISBN 978-9971-988-00-5, page 14:
      With their innuendos and condemnations, with their loud-mouthed gabble, what a frighteningly learned lot they are – not quite clever, and not quite skilled. But still, it's woman's nature to swank; they swank because they're women, so let them swank. We won't take offence.
    • 2007, Lucy Diamond, chapter 2, in Any Way You Want Me, London: Pan Books, ISBN 978-0-330-44985-4:
      He hung up my coat – my shabby, two-seasons-old Gap coat – and it looked like the scruffy kid in class next to the fawn cashmere number swanking on the neighbouring peg.

Related terms[edit]