Definition of swish in English:



  • 1no object, with adverbial of direction Move with a hissing or rushing sound.

    ‘a car swished by’
    • ‘As the rain falls in London, it washes the dirty streets into huge puddles on street corners, and cars send up dirty waves of water as they swish through them.’
    • ‘She sipped her drink politely and daintily, her dress swishing as she moved forward once finished.’
    • ‘We go around in anoraks and bicycle clips while they swish through in large cars.’
    • ‘Serial lights illuminated the trees and the gentle sounds of water swishing in the swimming pool, formed the perfect backdrop for the kebabs and the many side dishes that went with them.’
    • ‘Then what sounded like tennis shoes swishing through shallow water (I never had the courage to swim in water more than a foot deep) startled me.’
    • ‘She wore a long white dress that swished and whirled about with the faintest brush of the wind.’
    • ‘The axe's edge gleamed as it moved up and swept down, swishing audibly through the air.’
    • ‘Her long flowing violet dress swished around her as she moved towards the front door.’
    • ‘The way the material flowed down, and swished around when I walked was beautiful.’
    • ‘From the hips it flowed outwards, swishing around her legs and adding more grace to her already slim figure.’
    • ‘I moved sharply away, my clothes swishing with my movement.’
    • ‘She stood, her long, blue dress swishing as she moved.’
    • ‘The easiest way is to fill your sink or a basin with cold water and swish the kale around.’
    • ‘I started to blindly move ahead, swishing through the pool of water about my feet.’
    • ‘Rich kids in fourth grade used to make fun of the sounds of my corduroys swishing down the hall.’
    • ‘The wind swishes among the leaves, ruffles your hair.’
    • ‘I sat on the sidewalk as my skirt swished and flowed in the wind.’
    • ‘For a while we're quiet, only the sound of our feet swishing in the water reaches my ears.’
    • ‘Rachel's mother looks up at the sound of the door swishing open.’
    • ‘The sleeves covered her hands, as fashion dictated, and swished nicely when moved.’
    • ‘Simply put five drops into running water and swish with your hand.’
    • ‘But at the moment, I am content to sit here and listen to the cars swishing through the water outside my windows.’
    whirl, eddy, billow, spiral, wind, churn, agitate, circulate, revolve, spin, twist, gyrate
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    1. 1.1with object Cause to move with a hissing or rushing sound.
      ‘a girl came in, swishing her long skirts’
      • ‘She swished the coke around before taking a sip.’
      • ‘The young woman sat quietly in the shadowed corner, one hand swishing the water around in her mug, the other buried in the silky fur of the dog at her feet.’
      • ‘It's like taking a mouthful of good wine, swishing it around in your mouth, savoring it before you let it go down.’
      • ‘Once again, the cat hissed, swishing his tail until he was out of sight.’
      • ‘The roses bloomed, swallows skimmed low and the breeze swished the treetops.’
      • ‘After filling the cauldron up about halfway, he looked in, swishing the water about, then picking out a few pieces of debris that floated into it.’
      • ‘Riley cupped his hands and took a mouthful of water from one of the buckets; swishing it around and spitting it back out.’
      • ‘They display their techniques by swishing their swords around in synchronisation.’
      • ‘Toss in the pumpkin cubes and swish them around for a few minutes to sear them.’
      • ‘He appeared to be practising moves, waving what I believed to be a sword around his head and swishing it in an arc around his body.’
      • ‘She gave us slates to write on, made us chant some Empire geography facts, ordered us to sit up straight and swished her cane around with aplomb.’
      • ‘She swishes her glass of wine around before downing the rest of it.’
      • ‘Percy was wearing a crisp new set of whites and swishing his racket experimentally at tiny insects.’
      • ‘I took a long sip of coffee, swishing the warm liquid around my mouth, the taste of coffee beans lingering on my taste buds.’
      • ‘This struck me as unusual because on previous visits the drain has always been sucked out before any water was swished down it.’
      • ‘He ran around the house flapping his wings, swishing his tail, going RAWWK!’
      • ‘The cows swished their tails at the afternoon sun, the red barns stood still and solid, seemingly untouched by summers and winters gone by.’
      • ‘One easy way to get rid of the sand and mud is to add a little salt to a bowl of cold water, swish the leaves around and transfer it to a colander.’
      • ‘She swished her skirts around her as she stalked around the dressing room, her head held high in the air.’
      • ‘He wore his cloak and swished it behind him most becomingly.’
    2. 1.2 Aim a swinging blow at something.
      ‘he swished at a bramble with a piece of stick’
      • ‘They swished at each other's heads, ducked and stabbed.’
      • ‘I swished at him with the grey umbrella I had acquired when somebody left it behind at the pub weeks ago.’
      • ‘He had paced by the campfire the night before, kicking at the dirt with his boots, swishing at the flames with a long tree branch.’
      swing, sway, shake, move to and fro, swish, switch, quiver, twitch, flutter, waver, whip
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  • 2Basketball
    with object Sink (a shot) without the ball touching the backboard or rim.

    • ‘After Arizona hit a three-pointer of its own, I again swished a shot from behind the arc and we trailed by only two with thirty seconds left to go.’
    • ‘Kobe had swished the foul shot right before the bank, so it was fairly suspicious.’
    • ‘He was swishing it in each time and slowly strolling to the ball, which bounced feebly once when it hit the surface and remained inert.’
    • ‘He swished 19 of 20 free throw attempts, a record that still stands.’
    • ‘During the next play Donavon swished a shot over that opposing player.’


  • 1A hissing or rustling sound.

    ‘he could hear the swish of a distant car’
    • ‘The swish of skates on the ice accentuated the daring dances, and then in more delicate moments the glistening spray shooting out from their feet looked like fairy dust.’
    • ‘He heard a soft swish of skirts before silence closed over the grounds again.’
    • ‘He winced as the rustle of his shirt caused a conspicuous swish to echo.’
    • ‘I heard the swish of a heavy cloak, and for some reason, knew who it was.’
    • ‘The door opened with a quiet swish and Calida heard footsteps near the bed.’
    • ‘I heard the soft swish of a steel blade leaving a leather lined sheath.’
    • ‘She heard a swish of wings and a creature landed on the edge of the cement roof.’
    • ‘I heard a soft swish of his robe, and he turned away.’
    • ‘Waiting until she'd heard the swish of the lift's doors closing, Jack turned and regarded an amused Julian.’
    • ‘I nodded, smiled, and a minute later heard the swish of a blade.’
    • ‘He could hear the gentle swish of waves and some creature chirping nearby.’
    • ‘For a full minute, the only sound was the swish of the mop against the tiled floor.’
    • ‘She heard the soft swish of flowing robes, and sensed a maternal, loving presence.’
    • ‘She could hear the slap of Laura's flip-flops and the swish of her jeans grow steadily louder.’
    • ‘They heard the swish of her usual elaborate dress as she headed towards the door.’
    • ‘He was accustomed to hearing the swish of skirts accompanying a young female voice.’
    • ‘Everyone has had the experience and knows how annoying it is hearing the swish of a club behind him just as he is in the midst of his swing.’
    • ‘The room had suddenly become deathly silent except for the sound of the band and the swish of skirts across the floor.’
    • ‘She went to the door, the elegant swish of her skirts the only sound in the room aside from the unnoticeable crackle of the fireplace in the wall.’
    • ‘The only immediate sound was the gentle swish of my gown as I turned fiercely, looking down the hall and then the opposite side.’
    swish, swishing, whisper, whispering, rustling
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    1. 1.1 A rapid swinging movement.
      ‘the cow gave a swish of its tail’
      • ‘After warning other animals with several swishes of the tail, the giraffe boldly strides out of harm's way.’
      • ‘He turned and with a swish of his cloak he was gone.’
      • ‘The wind picked up, the gentle swish quickly turning into a fierce gust.’
      • ‘With a swish of her tail, she made her way towards the center of the ring.’
      • ‘The figure took a few steps in one direction, paused, and turned with a swish of wavy brown hair, walking back the other way.’
      • ‘A girl would fall back, exhausted from sprinting, and I would meander my way to the front, making sure my pony tail did a swish to show that yes, I am doing better than you.’
      • ‘She'd hang around them briefly to make sure they were staying put, then would return to the house with a pleased smile and a satisfied swish of her tail.’
      • ‘With an elaborate swish of his cape he turned and made for the door.’
      swing, sway, shake, swish, switch, quiver, twitch, flutter, waver, whip, oscillation, vibration, undulation
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  • 2Basketball
    informal A shot that goes through the basket without touching the backboard or rim.

    • ‘The NBA's All-Star Weekend was a lovely experience, full of dunks and swishes.’
    • ‘Three shots, three swishes; these somehow lifted the sense of occasion.’
  • 3North American offensive, informal An effeminate male homosexual.


  • 1British Impressively smart and fashionable.

    ‘dinner at a swish hotel’
    • ‘I recall taking afternoon tea with a friend and her young daughter in a swish Dublin hotel some years ago.’
    • ‘The interior of the Grade II building has been converted into a swish joint, boasting laminate flooring and beech-topped tables.’
    • ‘The hairs on the back of Jo's neck stood up when she stepped into the lift of a swish New York hotel to be confronted by three cool dudes in dark suits.’
    • ‘That way you'll come off looking swish even if the sound doesn't.’
    • ‘Apart from windsurfing and sailing - in anything from a dinghy to a big swish yacht - there were harbour cruises and deep-sea fishing trips.’
    • ‘This swish brasserie matches the five-star credentials of the Balmoral hotel, but adds a delightful whiff of informality.’
    • ‘For starters, there's that swish kitchen, but if you want a break from cooking there's also a huge gas barbie on the balcony.’
    • ‘But somewhere along the line, Mercedes got bored with merely being swish and swanky.’
    • ‘There's also a sauna (it was built in the '80s, remember), an area for a hot tub and supposedly a very swish tennis court on the roof.’
    • ‘The place was quite swish, I suppose, but the decor was vile: a real mishmash of conflicting styles.’
    • ‘It starts out as social comedy with two lovers quarrelling at a swish party.’
    • ‘There's also a rather swish beach bar and café here (one of seven in the complex), where thirsty visitors have no need to carry cash.’
    • ‘Around 1,000 guests were flown in on planes chartered from Air India and were booked into two swish hotels.’
    • ‘This turns out to be a very, very swish duplex loft conversion, all open spaces, natural wood, big windows and big art.’
    • ‘During her visit, her publishers throw a swish party for her.’
    • ‘That's the price of a rather swish holiday in the sun or a new car.’
    • ‘The couple were therefore ensconced in a swish Mayfair hotel last week.’
    • ‘We also want to go to Florida and stay in a swish hotel for two weeks in December.’
    • ‘In the swish entrance lobby, there were glossy leaflets showing what the apartment blocks would look like when completed.’
    • ‘They don't have swish lobbyists and massive advertising budgets, only the funds put up by weakened trade unions.’
    stylish, smart, elegant, chic, crisp, dapper, spruce, trim, debonair, well dressed, well groomed, well turned out, smartly dressed
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  • 2US offensive (of a man) effeminate.


Mid 18th century: imitative.