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Unknown, mid 16th c. Perhaps connected with Old English swelgan (to swallow).


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /swɪɡ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪɡ


swig (third-person singular simple present swigs, present participle swigging, simple past and past participle swigged)

  1. To drink (usually by gulping or in a greedy or unrefined manner); to quaff.
    Synonyms: chug, gulp, guzzle, quaff
    That sailor can swig whisky with the best of 'em.
  2. (obsolete) To suck.
    • 1684, Thomas Creech, Idylliums of Theocritus
      As sucking Colts leap when they swig the Teat
  3. (nautical) To take up the last bit of slack in rigging by taking a single turn around a cleat, then hauling on the line above and below the cleat while keeping tension on the line.
    Synonym: sweating




swig (plural swigs)

  1. (obsolete) Drink, liquor. [1540s–?]
  2. (by extension) A long draught from a drink. [from 1620s]
    Synonyms: draught, sip, swill
    • 1830, Frederick Marryat, The King's Own:
      he would have an opportunity of taking a few more swigs before he went down
    • 1881–1882, Robert Louis Stevenson, “Israel Hands”, in Treasure Island, London; Paris: Cassell & Company, published 14 November 1883, OCLC 702939134, part V (My Sea Adventure), pages 219–220:
      He looked up, however, at my coming, knocked the neck off the bottle like a man who had done the same thing often, and took a good swig, with his favourite toast of "Here's luck!"
    • 1922 February, James Joyce, “[Episode 12: The Cyclops]”, in Ulysses, London: The Egoist Press, published October 1922, OCLC 2297483:
      And he took the last swig out of the pint.
    • 2014, Michael Griffo, Starfall (The Darkborn Legacy), New York, NY: Kensington Publishing Corporation, →ISBN, page 26:
      Next, he opens up the cupboard over the sink and slams that shut too, only to open another cabinet door that houses what he's looking for, a glass. He pours it full of OJ and takes a huge swig, swallows, and repeats.
  3. (obsolete) A person who drinks deeply.
  4. (nautical) A tackle with ropes which are not parallel.
  5. Warm beer flavoured with spices, lemon, etc.