One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1literary An expanse of short grass.
The upper layer of soil, especially when covered with grass.
- ‘This reduces the proportion of grass in the brassica-grass sward, which is not always advantageous.’
- ‘He also says that the prairie includes ‘waving ground, necessarily of good soil, from the beautiful sward of grass rising from it.’’
- ‘The standing sward of rye, clovers, and fescues is increasingly varied with herbs like dock and comfrey, which help pull nutrients up from the subsoil.’
- ‘Farmers tell him that livestock graze the sward very tightly so there is no wastage.’
- ‘Thus the potential nutritive value of uncut silage swards is limited, and the emphasis must now be on conserving them as an edible feedstuff.’
Old English sweard ‘skin’. The sense ‘upper layer of soil’ developed in late Middle English (at first in phrases such as sward of the earth).
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