Definition of swill in US English:



  • 1British with object 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Once a week I swilled out the stable with disinfectant which kept everything really fresh’
    • ‘She had finished swilling out her mouth with clean water’
    • ‘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’
    • ‘You want a van with wooden seats you can swill down at the end of the night.’
    • ‘She scraped her untouched food into a black plastic rubbish sack and swilled the plate in a bowl of cold water in the sink.’
    wash, sluice, clean out, flush, rinse, bathe, cleanse, drench
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    1. 1.1 Cause (liquid) to swirl around in a container or cavity.
      ‘she gently swilled her brandy around her glass’
      • ‘He pored over this for a while, swilling the wine around the glass’
      • ‘The waiter pours a glass of cognac, lights it, swills the flaming liquid around the glass, then tips it out.’
      • ‘A basic mouthwash such as Chlorhexidine is also good to swill around the chops every day - but spit it out, don't swallow.’
      • ‘He was befuddled as he swilled the tea around in his mug’
      • ‘He took a sip from his glass and swilled the brandy around in his mouth’
    2. 1.2no object, with adverbial (of a liquid) move or splash about over a surface.
      ‘the icy water swilled around us’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There is concern about members of public going into the site, particularly if there is water swilling around it.’
      • ‘The first of the giant tsunamis to hit the coast was then swilling over the statue.’
      • ‘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…’
      • ‘Water was now swilling about on the bottom of the boat almost to their knees’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2informal with object Drink (something) greedily or in large quantities.

    ‘they whiled away their evening swilling pints of beer’
    ‘his beer-swilling pals’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I can swill down a bit of red wine to be sociable, but that's about it.’
    • ‘So when the tie slips off and the shades go on, what will you be swilling this summer?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Even I eventually got sick of hearing about characters swilling whisky and driving at the same time.’
    • ‘He swills beer, smokes the odd fag or two and is perhaps ever so slightly overweight.’
    • ‘He fights, he sweats, he swills ale, he bullies.’
    • ‘I didn't want to have to swill vodka before 8 a.m.’
    • ‘The blind taste test showed that she preferred swilling the budget brand, too.’
    • ‘At yesterday's office party, after swilling several glasses of wine, I met our executive director at last.’
    • ‘At sunset, everyone returns to the porch to swill rum punch and wait for the bats to swoop down.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You had a cushy job; you spent your summers swilling wine on Martha's Vineyard.’
    • ‘But within a couple of years everyone was meeting one another at Timmy's and swilling their coffee.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Then again, perhaps we were just a bunch of Chardonnay (Cabernet Merlot, actually) swilling elitists totally out of touch with middle Australia.’
    • ‘From his first scene, he's swilling liquor and dispensing snide remarks with such regularity that he's obviously evil.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘He shook his head after swilling another synthetic beer.’
    • ‘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’
      • ‘After the movie he would have a meal of rice, pasta or fish swilled down with Gaelic Coffee.’
      • ‘‘This is awfully thoughtful of you,’ I said to the girl dispensing the pills as I swilled down a handful.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Traditional Thai food was swilled down with a never-ending supply of cola and followed by ice cream.’
      • ‘The injury caused him to pop painkillers and swill them down with hard liquor’


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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Leftover ham from the meals was sold for swill for British pigs.’
    • ‘The report also recommended the government continue the ban on feeding animals swill containing meat catering 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.’
    • ‘Most are fed on heat-treated swill, which is not the norm for pig farming in Britain.’
    • ‘But the use of catering waste as swill continued.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Government had already clamped down on swill, the most likely route by which the disease had got into the country.’
    • ‘Last time it was caused by infected feed and the two main forms of transportation are pig to pig contact or inadequately cooked swill.’
    • ‘The group said it believed that cheap foreign meat was likely to have been fed to pigs in swill.’
    • ‘Most of its kitchens did not provide swill because it was too much trouble to separate suitable food from other waste.’
    pigswill, hogwash, pigwash, wash, mash
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    1. 1.1informal Alcohol of inferior quality.
      ‘the beer was just warm 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Pour half a cup of whatever undrinkable swill you've got left plus half a cup of water into a zip-lock bag.’
  • 2informal A large mouthful of a drink.

    ‘a swill of ale’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The man raised his mug and took a deep gulp of the swill.’
    • ‘Criminals simply drove them off the home-owner's drives while the motorist was having a last swill of coffee.’
    • ‘Ignoring his wife's concern, he took a large swill of the drink and savored the malted barley on his bitter tongue.’
    • ‘After taking deep swills of brandy from his flask, they shook hands and were off.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.