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See also: Sward



Etymology 1[edit]

The noun is derived from Middle English sward (rind; skin; calloused skin; leather strap; sod, turf) [and other forms], from Old English sweard, swearð (rind; skin),[1] from Proto-Germanic *swarduz (rind; tough skin; turf); further etymology unknown.[2]

The verb is derived from the noun.[3]


sward (countable and uncountable, plural swards)

  1. (uncountable) Earth which grass has grown into the upper layer of; greensward, sod, turf; (countable) a portion of such earth.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book X”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554, lines 429–433:
      His eyes he op'nd, and beheld a field, / Part arable and tilth, whereon were Sheaves / New reapt, the other part ſheep-walks and foulds; / Ith' midſt an Altar as the Land-mark ſtood / Ruſtic, of graſſie ſord; []
    • 1832 December (indicated as 1833), Alfred Tennyson, “Œnone”, in Poems, London: Edward Moxon, [], OCLC 3944791, stanza I, page 51:
      There is a dale in Ida, lovelier / Than any in old Ionia, beautiful / With emerald slopes of sunny sward, that lean / Above the loud glenriver, which hath worn / A path thro' steepdown granite walls below / Mantled with flowering tendriltwine.
    • 1837, [Edward Bulwer-Lytton], chapter XIII, in Ernest Maltravers [] , volume I, London: Saunders and Otley, [], OCLC 1181337800, book I, pages 125–126:
      The road wound through the greenest sward, in which trees of venerable growth were relieved by a profusion of shrubs, and flowers gathered into baskets intertwined with creepers, or blooming from Etruscan vases, placed with a tasteful and classic care, in such spots as required filling up, and harmonised well with the object chosen.
    • 1843, [Edward Bulwer-Lytton], “Earl Warwick, the King-maker”, in The Last of the Barons, volume I, London: Saunders and Otley, [], OCLC 2483878, book II (The King’s Court), page 172:
      [F]or garden it was called, though consisting but of plots of sward, bordered by fruit trees, and white rose trees not yet in blossom, []
    • 1847, Alfred Tennyson, The Princess: A Medley, London: Edward Moxon, [], OCLC 2024748, prologue, page 5:
      And long we gazed, but satiated at length / Came to the ruins. High-arch'd and ivy-claspt, / Of finest Gothic, lighter than a fire, / Thro' one wide chasm of time and frost they gave / The park, the crowd, the house; but all within / The sward was trim as any garden lawn: []
  2. (countable) An expanse of land covered in grass; a lawn or meadow.
    Synonym: field
  3. (countable, obsolete) The upper layer of the ground, especially when vegetation is growing on it.
  4. (countable, obsolete except Britain, dialectal) The rind of bacon or pork; also, the outer covering or skin of something.
Alternative forms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]


sward (third-person singular simple present swards, present participle swarding, simple past and past participle swarded)

  1. (transitive) To cover (ground, etc.) with sward.
  2. (intransitive) Of ground, etc.: to be covered with sward; to develop a covering of sward.
    • 1644, Gabriel Plattes, in a letter in Hartlib's Legacy (1655), page 236:
      [Land...] will not sward again []
    • 1765, Thomas Hamilton Haddington, A Short Treatise on Forest-trees, page 45:
      [] for the ground immediately after corn is many years before it swards, and []
    • 1891, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Professional Notes, volume 5, page 256:
      ... with soil of a similar character, several fields have been laid down and ploughed up again under the old plea that they will not sward.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


sward (plural swards)

  1. (Philippines) A homosexual man.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:male homosexual
Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ sward, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ sward, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2021; “sward, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  3. ^ sward, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2021.

Further reading[edit]


Middle English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


From Old English sweard, from Proto-Germanic *swarduz; compare Old Norse svǫrðr.


  • IPA(key): /ˈsward/, /ˈswarθ/, /ˈswɛrd/



  1. Sward; a location where grass exists.
  2. (Late Middle English) Skin, especially that on meat.


  • English: sward
  • Scots: swaird