Green’s Dictionary of Slang

swing v.

1. [mid-16C+] to be executed by hanging.

2. [early 18C+] to execute by hanging.

3. [mid-19C+] (also swing it) to arrange, to achieve.

4. (US) vtr., to persuade.

5. [1900s] (US Und.) of a crime, to be remunerative.

6. [1920s+] to make a sneering remark.

7. [1930s+] (US) to act or live in a given manner.

8. in terms pertaining to sex.

(a) [1930s+] to enjoy an active and varied sex life, to have sexual intercourse (with); thus swinging n.

(b) [1940s+] (gay) to fellate.

(c) [1950s] (US) to work as a prostitute.

(d) to pimp out.

(e) [1960s] to carry on an affair with someone.

(f) [1960s] of a place, to be devoted to sex.

(g) [1970s+] to arrange and participate in husband-and-wife swapping parties; usu. as swinging n.2

9. in terms describing a positive experience.

(a) [1930s+] to enjoy oneself, to have a good time.

(b) [1950s] (US drugs) to experience the effects of a drug; thus swinging adj.

(c) [1950s+] (orig. gay) to achieve the supreme level of satisfaction or success; thus swinging adj.

(d) [1960s] of anything, to work out well, as planned.

(e) [1960s+] of a party, a club, a place of entertainment, to go well, to be enjoyable.

10. [1950s] (US teen, also swing it) to leave, to go.

11. in terms pertaining to crime.

(a) [1950s] (US Und.) of a pimp, to run a prostitute.

(b) [1950s–60s] (US drugs) to cheat.

(c) [1950s+] (US) to be a member of a teenage street gang; to fight as a member of a teenage street gang.

(d) [1960s] to involve oneself in corruption or illegality.

(e) [1960s–70s] (US black) to be dealing narcotics.

12. [2000s] (US) to give, to hand over, to pay.

13. see I’ll swing (for)...

14. see swing (with)

15. see swing both ways

16. see swing the lead

Pertaining to hanging

In phrases

big swing (n.)

[1960s+] (US) the prison gallows.

I’ll swing (for)... [the implication is that the speaker is willing to commit murder to get what they want and thus face the gallows]

[mid-19C+] a general threat.

swing in a halter (v.)

[mid–16C-mid-19C] to be hanged.

Pertaining to deception

In phrases

swing (it) on (v.) (also swing one across)

[20C+] (mainly Aus./N.Z.) to deceive, to impose on, to do a bad turn.

swing someone off (v.)

(Aus.) to prevaricate with, to refuse to commit.

swing (with) (v.)

[1950s–70s] (US) to steal.

Pertaining to sex

In compounds

swing (party) (n.)

[1970s+] (orig. US) an orgy, esp. when the participants are husband-and-wife swapping couples.

In phrases

swing both ways (v.) (also swing, swing either way, ...three-sixty)

[1960s+] to practise bisexuality.

swing low (v.) [sense 8a above + SE low]

[1990s+] (US black teen) to have oral sex.

swing to the left (v.)

[1970s] (US) to be a homosexual.

swing with (v.) [sense 8 above]

1. [1950s+] to associate with [may be SE swing, i.e. on buses or other public transport].

2. [1960s] to have a relationship with, to have sex with.

3. [1960s+] to ally oneself to a group, or individual, to agree with a concept.

4. [1960s+] to enjoy, to appreciate.

Other senses

In compounds

swing man (n.) [? he makes things go with a swing or ? sense 9 above]

[1950s–60s] a drug dealer.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

swing-out (n.)

see separate entry.

swing-tail (n.)

[late 18C–early 19C] a hog.

In phrases

swing a bag (v.) [the prostitute’s inevitable handbag]

1. [1930s] (Aus.) a to work as a bookmaker.

2. [1940s+] (Aus.) to work as a street-walker.

swing by (v.) (also swing around) [SE swing, a trip]

[1980s+] (orig. US) to visit.

swing for (v.)

to aim at/for.

swing in (v.)

[1960s] (US) to arrive.

swinging on the meat (phr.)

[1940s] (US) overly anxious to please.

swinging the stick (n.) [the physical action of the bludgeoner]

[mid-19C] robbery with violence.

swing it (v.)

1. see sense 3 above.

2. see sense 10 above.

3. see swing the lead

swing of the door (n.)

[1930s] the seventh drink of a session, supposedly the very last one has before leaving the pub.

swing on (v.)

1. (US black) to attach oneself; to enter a vehicle .

2. [late 19C; 1960s] in fig. use, to talk forcefully.

3. [1910s+] (US) to hit or punch.

4. [1960s] (Aus., also swing on to) to keep, to take.

swing out (v.)

see separate entry.

swing the dice (v.)

[1990s+] (US black) to accept that much of life is a matter of luck and to live it accordingly.

swing the gate (v.) [orig. sheep-shearing jargon, used of a fast and expert shearer]

[1910s+] (Aus.) to work hard, to do well, to win in a contest.

swing the lead (v.) (also swing (it), swing the hammer) [the image is of a leadsman, taking soundings from a ship, but that job is skilful rather than easy] [1910s+] (orig. milit.)

1. to malinger, to avoid one’s duties.

2. to brag, to boast.