One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A wooden tool for beating flax and removing the woody parts from it.
- ‘When the flax is sufficiently watered it is taken out of the pond and beaten by an implement called a swingle.’
2The swinging part of a flail.
- ‘The handle of the flail was raised until the swingle was shoulder high and then brought down firmly.’
- ‘The swingle, half as long as the handle, strikes the grain.’
- ‘A flail is a simple device made up from two pieces of wood a handle or staff about five feet long and a swingle that is about two feet long.’
Beat (flax) with a swingle.‘I found a group of bare-armed women under the trees swingling flax’
- ‘After this comes the scutching, or swingling, which is done by chopping with dull knives on a block of wood to take out the small pieces of bark which may still be sticking to the fiber.’
- ‘After the hemp has been removed from the field it is in a state to be broken and swingled.’
- ‘Flax was raised, and after grandfather had broken, swingled and hatchelled it, grandmother spun it into thread, which sold for $1.50 per pound.’
- ‘When it ripened it had to be pulled, cured, seeded, swingled, spun and woven, all by hand, before it was ready to be made into wearing apparel.’
- ‘Perhaps he imagines that the flax is first bundled and then beaten (swingled), though that would go against the flailing process which is normally done on a threshing floor.’
- ‘These were then separately swingled, spun and woven.’
Middle English: from Middle Dutch swinghel, from the base of the verb swing.
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