Definition of swidden in English:



  • 1An area of land cleared for cultivation by slashing and burning vegetation.

    ‘paddy rice and rice grown in swiddens in hilly areas provides subsistence for the majority of the population’
    mass noun ‘the forest had been reduced to swidden’
    • ‘In this type of subsistence farming rice was the most important crop and several of the 92 recognized rice varieties were planted in new swiddens.’
    • ‘Forest or grassland is burned to make swiddens at the end of the dry season in February and March.’
    • ‘The Karen response was the limited expansion of wet-rice terraces and the adoption of careful conservation measures to preserve the productivity of swiddens.’
    • ‘Respondents often contrasted this term with takin k'inal, which I have glossed as ‘dry, unfertile land,’ and was used to describe recently fallowed swiddens and early successional forest.’
    • ‘Paddy rice and rice grown in swiddens (slash-and-burn agriculture) in hilly areas provides subsistence for the majority of the population.’
    • ‘Cultivation of swidden was still common in two thirds of Finland as late as the 1830s, and was used occasionally in the whole country except for Lapland.’
    1. 1.1mass noun The method of clearing land by slashing and burning vegetation.
      ‘the practice of swidden’


[with object]
  • Clear (land) by slashing and burning vegetation.

    ‘most horticulture in New Zealand was essentially swiddening’
    • ‘In the areas of eastern Finland active in swiddening, most forests suitable for slash-and-burn cultivation were privately owned.’
    • ‘For the same reason, landowners no longer desired to rent their forests to the landless population for swiddening, which was then regarded as most destructive for natural forests.’
    • ‘Contrary to the tropics, swiddening in Finland also created rich cultural biotopes and new habitats important for certain species by favoring broad-leaved trees at the expense of spruce stands.’
    • ‘In the Middle Ages, the cultivation of permanent fields first began to replace swiddening on the southern coast.’
    • ‘In these areas swiddening seems more productive in the long term than permanent agriculture, and does not require significant inputs.’
    • ‘Some animals, such as red squirrels and capercaillie, suffered from swiddening as well as the felling of timber in general.’
    • ‘It can be argued that in the nineteenth century, growing animal husbandry maintained slash-and-burn cultivation, as butter production was mainly based on good summer pastures created by swiddening.’
    • ‘He concluded that swiddens generally produced enough food for consumption and future planting, and only occasionally was there a need to resort to semi-domesticate crops.’


Late 18th century (as a verb, originally dialect): variant of dialect swithen ‘to burn’.