swift boat

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Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]


swift boat (plural swift boats)

  1. A small, shallow draft water vessel used by the United States Navy for counterinsurgency (COIN) operations during the Vietnam War; Fast Patrol Craft (PCF).

Etymology 2[edit]

From a 2004 campaign by political group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to challenge the legitimacy of each combat medal awarded by the U.S. Navy to presidential candidate John Kerry, and the disposition of his discharge.


swift boat (third-person singular simple present swift boats, present participle swift boating, simple past and past participle swift boated)

  1. (US, neologism, pejorative, transitive) to put forth sensational negative stories about a political figure as part of a smear campaign against them, especially regarding their military record
    • Laurie Goodstein, “American Muslims Ask, Will We Ever Belong?”, in New York Times, September 6, 2010.
      “There is simply the desire to paint an entire religion as the enemy,” he said. Referring to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the founder of the proposed Muslim center near ground zero, “What they did to Imam Feisal was highly strategic. The signal was, we can Swift Boat your most moderate leaders.”
    • 2007, Lee Iacocca, Where have all the leaders gone?
      Swift-boating is the new term used to describe a dirty campaign that tries to paint a war hero as unpatriotic.
    • 2008, Michael Kinsley, Time, "To Swift-Boat or Not"
      Swift-boating's essence is a particular kind of dishonesty, or rather a particular combination of shadowy dishonesties. It usually involves a complex web of facts, many of which may even be true.

See also[edit]