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See also: Sward



Etymology 1[edit]

United States Navy soldiers laying down pieces of sward (sense 1) or sod for a Habitat for Humanity project to build homes in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

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. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC, 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, 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, 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, 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, “Prologue”, in The Princess: A Medley, London: Edward Moxon, [], →OCLC, 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
    • 1879, R[ichard] J[efferies], “The First Gun”, in The Amateur Poacher, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., [], →OCLC, pages 9–10:
      It was not far from the house; but the ground sank into a depression there, and the ridge of it behind shut out everything except just the roof of the tallest hayrick. As one sat on the sward behind the elm, with the back turned on the rick and nothing in front but the tall elms and the oaks in the other hedge, it was quite easy to fancy it the verge of the prairie with the backwoods close by.
    • 1891, A[rthur] Conan Doyle, “How Strange Things Befell in Minstead Wood”, in The White Company, New York, N.Y.; Boston, Mass.: Thomas Y[oung] Crowell & Company [], →OCLC, page 105:
      [O]f a sudden the trees began to thin and the sward to spread out onto a broad, green lawn, where five cows lay in the sunshine and droves of black swine wandered unchecked.
    • 1918, Booth Tarkington, chapter XIII, in The Magnificent Ambersons, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Company, →OCLC, page 197:
      Only where George stood was there left a sward as of yore; the great, level, green lawn that served for both the Major's house and his daughter's.
  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]

From a blend of sword +‎ pardner.[4]


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, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ sward, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2021.
  4. ^ Zorc, R. David; San Miguel, Rachel (1993) Tagalog Slang Dictionary[1], Manila: De La Salle University Press, →ISBN, page 135

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.
  3. Sward: The rind of bacon or pork; also, the outer covering or skin of something.


  • English: sward
  • Scots: swaird