Definition of swither in English:



[no object]Scottish
  • Be uncertain as to which course of action to choose.

    ‘Leonard swithered as to whether he should enter the arts or commerce’
    • ‘I'd been swithering all week, but now the prospect of endless cups of tea, the Sunday papers and a whole afternoon of Dawson's Creek and the central heating on full blast seemed very appealing.’
    • ‘I swithered quite hard over some words - like committee, which you spell ‘comatee’ in Scots - but decided to take it one step at a time.’’
    • ‘The two remaining guards had swithered and decided to flee.’
    • ‘I am swithering, I have to say, not least because of the cravat.’
    • ‘He is swithering about possibly riding Blowing Wind, however, as he is consistent and has been placed twice in the past two years.’
    • ‘When Crowe began casting for a leading lady to complement Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, he was apparently still swithering over who to give the part to when his star arrived for his first costume check.’
    • ‘French target Bobo Balde of Toulouse is still swithering over coming to Celtic.’
    • ‘I swithered about going to Waulkmill, as the tide was only just starting to ebb, but fortunately I did, because I was able to see 3 Brent Geese (pale bellied) as well as Shelduck, Common Gull and Pheasant.’
    • ‘On the day she saw the GP, Del Veneziano was still swithering.’
    • ‘It's like the MMR jab, people were swithering whether to go ahead with it.’
    • ‘So, I'm swithering at the moment about whether I will realistically be able to give up the alcohol.’
    • ‘We swithered about joining the EU, reducing our influence on it, and now we are swithering about the euro.’
    • ‘This was reinforced by supportive messages from pals and, while I swithered, they gave me business introductions and I waited for my restrictive covenant to end,’ he said.’
    • ‘So the only thing that surprised when he was asked if he would take a draw and a replay at Ibrox, was the fact that he swithered, albeit fleetingly, before deciding against it.’
    • ‘By three, we're swithering about moving to the catchment area of the best state primary.’
    • ‘Unlike the Celtic centre-back, the Ibrox defender was allowed to swither over an offer from Dundee United.’
    indecisiveness, indecision, irresoluteness, lack of resolution, hesitancy, hesitation, tentativeness
    View synonyms


  • A state of uncertainty.

    • ‘It's an exhilarating poem with its paradoxical guarantee of risk: there is nothing as vacillating here as a ‘swither’ and it is none the worse for it.’
    • ‘I pursued my journey to Fulton, and laughed heartily to think what a swither I had left poor Job in.’
    • ‘They found the office in a "swither," as Harry said, over the revelations of fraud that were coming to light every day.’
    dithering, indecision, indecisiveness, irresoluteness, uncertainty, unsureness, doubt, wavering, teetering, temporization, hesitation, oscillation, fluctuation, inconstancy
    View synonyms


Early 16th century: of unknown origin.