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’
    • ‘Forest or grassland is burned to make swiddens at the end of the dry season in February and March.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Karen response was the limited expansion of wet-rice terraces and the adoption of careful conservation measures to preserve the productivity of swiddens.’
    • ‘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. 1.1[mass noun] The method of clearing land by slashing and burning vegetation:
      ‘the practice of swidden’


  • Clear (land) by slashing and burning vegetation:

    ‘most horticulture in New Zealand was essentially swiddening’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In the areas of eastern Finland active in swiddening, most forests suitable for slash-and-burn cultivation were privately owned.’


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