Definition of swill in English:



[with object]
  • 1British Wash or rinse out (an area or container) by pouring large amounts of water or other liquid over or into it.

    ‘I swilled out the mug’
    • ‘He preferred to spend his day swilling out the changing rooms in the leisure centre’
    • ‘Add the tinned tomatoes and swill out the tin with some stock or water’
    • ‘Once a week I swilled out the stable with disinfectant which kept everything really fresh’
    • ‘All the waste fell into an ashpit which was filled with ashes from the housefires and the whole thing emptied and swilled down once a fortnight.’
    • ‘Shop keepers are telling me they are having to swill their doorways down in the morning.’
    • ‘She scraped her untouched food into a black plastic rubbish sack and swilled the plate in a bowl of cold water in the sink.’
    • ‘You want a van with wooden seats you can swill down at the end of the night.’
    • ‘She had finished swilling out her mouth with clean water’
    wash, sluice, clean out, flush, rinse, bathe, cleanse, drench
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    1. 1.1 Cause (liquid) to swirl round in a container or cavity.
      ‘she gently swilled her brandy round her glass’
      • ‘He pored over this for a while, swilling the wine around the glass’
      • ‘A basic mouthwash such as Chlorhexidine is also good to swill around the chops every day - but spit it out, don't swallow.’
      • ‘He took a sip from his glass and swilled the brandy around in his mouth’
      • ‘The waiter pours a glass of cognac, lights it, swills the flaming liquid around the glass, then tips it out.’
      • ‘He was befuddled as he swilled the tea around in his mug’
    2. 1.2no object, with adverbial (of a liquid) move or splash about over a surface.
      ‘the icy water swilled round us’
      • ‘Water was now swilling about on the bottom of the boat almost to their knees’
      • ‘For 10 days, they carried on with their lives while the polluted waters of the River Ouse swilled around the ground floor of the family's three-storey Victorian home in Friar Terrace in York.’
      • ‘It's time to retrace your steps to the Temple Bar: the pubs will soon be opening, the black vials of Guinness swilling over the bar and the fiddlers beginning to fiddle…’
      • ‘A week's rainfall fell overnight, almost a normal month's total rained down over the week, and mountains of water came swilling down on Ilkley from the moors.’
      • ‘The gush of brown water swilled round my bare feet on the deck’
      • ‘At the base of the waterfall all of the water swilled into a basin and then formed a river.’
      • ‘The first of the giant tsunamis to hit the coast was then swilling over the statue.’
      • ‘There is concern about members of public going into the site, particularly if there is water swilling around it.’
  • 2informal Drink (something) greedily or in large quantities.

    ‘they whiled away their evening swilling pints of bitter’
    ‘his beer-swilling pals’
    • ‘So when the tie slips off and the shades go on, what will you be swilling this summer?’
    • ‘Even I eventually got sick of hearing about characters swilling whisky and driving at the same time.’
    • ‘The blind taste test showed that she preferred swilling the budget brand, too.’
    • ‘There can be found a different class of drunk, swilling back copious amounts of G and T or champagne and stuffing their faces with complimentary food.’
    • ‘You had a cushy job; you spent your summers swilling wine on Martha's Vineyard.’
    • ‘At sunset, everyone returns to the porch to swill rum punch and wait for the bats to swoop down.’
    • ‘He shook his head after swilling another synthetic beer.’
    • ‘But within a couple of years everyone was meeting one another at Timmy's and swilling their coffee.’
    • ‘From his first scene, he's swilling liquor and dispensing snide remarks with such regularity that he's obviously evil.’
    • ‘He fights, he sweats, he swills ale, he bullies.’
    • ‘So you think you're going to sit in front of the TV watching Sport and swilling beer on a Saturday after a hard week at the office, do you?’
    • ‘Then again, perhaps we were just a bunch of Chardonnay (Cabernet Merlot, actually) swilling elitists totally out of touch with middle Australia.’
    • ‘I didn't want to have to swill vodka before 8 a.m.’
    • ‘I worked it over, and couldn't avoid the conclusion that Jeff spent every evening swilling bourbon on my couch because I was his only friend.’
    • ‘At yesterday's office party, after swilling several glasses of wine, I met our executive director at last.’
    • ‘He swills beer, smokes the odd fag or two and is perhaps ever so slightly overweight.’
    • ‘In groups they can poison the atmosphere of an entire pub in seconds, swilling ale, braying, tormenting the barmaid, spilling ale and lumbering against bystanders.’
    • ‘It was reported in the press that he had turned up late, worn inappropriate dress and encouraged his mates to swill champagne from the trophy.’
    • ‘I can swill down a bit of red wine to be sociable, but that's about it.’
    • ‘Swinging voters will see it as a sign that he has escaped from the clutches of the Chardonnay swilling elites.’
    drink, quaff, swallow, down, gulp down, drain, guzzle, imbibe, sup, slurp, consume
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    1. 2.1 Accompany (food) with large quantities of drink.
      ‘a feast swilled down with pints of cider’
      • ‘This appalling litter problem is mainly caused by the unpleasant habit of so many people now who eat their meals in the street, swill them down with a can of drink and then finish off with the inevitable cigarette.’
      • ‘‘This is awfully thoughtful of you,’ I said to the girl dispensing the pills as I swilled down a handful.’
      • ‘Many of us are chomping mainly on fatty sandwiches, pasties, pastries, cakes, buns and salty savoury snacks swilled down with tea and coffee while tapping away at the keyboard.’
      • ‘The injury caused him to pop painkillers and swill them down with hard liquor’
      • ‘Traditional Thai food was swilled down with a never-ending supply of cola and followed by ice cream.’
      • ‘After the movie he would have a meal of rice, pasta or fish swilled down with Gaelic Coffee.’


  • 1mass noun Kitchen refuse and scraps of waste food mixed with water for feeding to pigs.

    • ‘Leftover ham from the meals was sold for swill for British pigs.’
    • ‘But the use of catering waste as swill continued.’
    • ‘The group said it believed that cheap foreign meat was likely to have been fed to pigs in swill.’
    • ‘Most are fed on heat-treated swill, which is not the norm for pig farming in Britain.’
    • ‘Called swill or slop, this waste is used to feed pigs and other animals by farmers who were happy to get the cheap food.’
    • ‘The UK has fewer than 140 licensed swill feeders, accounting for just 1.6% of pig production.’
    • ‘Most of its kitchens did not provide swill because it was too much trouble to separate suitable food from other waste.’
    • ‘Government yesterday also placed an immediate ban on swill (kitchen refuse) bought from ships after it was established that the disease was carried in pig feed.’
    • ‘The Government had already clamped down on swill, the most likely route by which the disease had got into the country.’
    • ‘The report also recommended the government continue the ban on feeding animals swill containing meat catering waste.’
    • ‘Last time it was caused by infected feed and the two main forms of transportation are pig to pig contact or inadequately cooked swill.’
    • ‘We buy meat in from all over the place and anybody can bring anything in and we feed swill to pigs, swill which is basically left overs.’
    pigswill, hogwash, pigwash, wash, mash
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    1. 1.1informal Alcohol of inferior quality.
      ‘the beer was just warm swill’
      • ‘Always compliment her favorite wine, no matter what cheap swill she likes, and you are well on your way to exchanging phone numbers by the end of the night.’
      • ‘Some can produce individual wines of the highest quality, and they rarely produce undrinkable swill.’
      • ‘All they are guilty of trying to do is make wine taste a little better than the eye-watering, gout-inducing swill that it usually is.’
      • ‘Good Bourbon, not the bootleg swill she used to hustle at the Eagle.’
      • ‘Pour half a cup of whatever undrinkable swill you've got left plus half a cup of water into a zip-lock bag.’
      • ‘These bottles bear witness to the multitude who tried to take advantage of the distinctive flask to flog off their own less-than-distinctive swill.’
      • ‘Then it has to persuade some of the millions still drinking the swill sold at most convenience stores and gas stations to trade up.’
  • 2informal A large mouthful of a drink.

    ‘a swill of ale’
    • ‘Ignoring his wife's concern, he took a large swill of the drink and savored the malted barley on his bitter tongue.’
    • ‘Criminals simply drove them off the home-owner's drives while the motorist was having a last swill of coffee.’
    • ‘The man raised his mug and took a deep gulp of the swill.’
    • ‘Gulping the drink down in one swill, I gagged as I was rudely reminded this particular glass of Coke had been injected with bourbon.’
    • ‘They both then paused, an awkward moment stepping into their time as they took a small swill from their drinks.’
    • ‘She wished she could take off her heavy bag, but the others didn't, so she took a swill of her drink bottle and pressed on.’
    • ‘After taking deep swills of brandy from his flask, they shook hands and were off.’
    gulp, drink, swallow, draught, mouthful
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Old English swillan, swilian (verb), of unknown origin. The noun dates from the mid 16th century.