swing the lead

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swing the lead (third-person singular simple present swings the lead, present participle swinging the lead, simple past and past participle swung the lead)

  1. (intransitive) To avoid work, especially by pretending to be ill; to shirk, to malinger.
    • 1929, Frederic Manning, The Middle Parts of Fortune, Vintage 2014, p. 93:
      Though he was by no means inclined to help carry a gas-cylinder on a pole, while watching the working party fall in on the road that night, Bourne felt rather out of it; he felt as though he were swinging the lead.
    • 1974, GB Edwards, The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, New York 2007, p. 129:
      I said, ‘Well, how d'you like having to do some work for a change, instead of swinging the lead at Fort Hommet?’

Usage notes[edit]

  • Almost always used in the continuous aspect.