Green’s Dictionary of Slang

swallow v.

also gulp, swallow it, swallow whole

1. [17C+] to accept, esp. a false story that one is told.

2. [mid-19C] to be accepted.

3. [20C+] to accept defeat, i.e. in a game.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

swallow-pipe (n.)

[1970s+] (W.I., Bdos) the throat.

In phrases

swallow a hair (v.) [SE hair, which must be washed down the throat]

[mid-17C] to be drunk.

swallow a hare (v.) [? the drunkard may leap around like the animal]

[late 17C–early 19C] to become very drunk.

swallow a sailor (v.) [the naval predilection for rum]

[late 19C] (UK port/harbour) to get drunk on rum.

swallow a tavern token (v.) [SE tavern token, a token given as part of one’s change; it can be used in payment for subsequent drinks]

[late 16C–mid-18C] to become drunk.

swallow bobby (v.)

[early 19C] (Aus.) to make a false affidavit.

swallow it (v.) [1950s] (UK Und.)

1. to back down; to retreat.

2. to give up crime.

swallow one’s spit (v.) (also swallow one’s lip, …neck, …toad)

[1920s+] (W.I.) to keep quiet, to hold one’s tongue.

In exclamations

oh swallow yourself!

[late 19C] an excl. of dismissal, go to hell!