According come rumors words "swag" carried a clandestine message.

You are watching: Where did the word swag come from

Published26 September 2012

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While many typical terms have entered the English language together acronyms (words developed from the initial letter or valuation of a phrase, such as radar, which came from the term Radio Detection and also Ranging), just rarely did the phenomenon take place prior come the mid-twentieth century. However that truth stops few from getting to for acronymic explanations because that a selection of much older words, specifically in instances where the true etymologies aren’t decision clear.

Swag is one together misunderstood word.

Examples:

“SWAG” is one old acronym the gay men used in the 60’s that stood because that “Secretly We space Gay”, and Swag was provided as a brand to identify and announce one’s standing publicly. The term swag was designed in the at an early stage 1960’s by a group of gay guys in Hollywood. It stands for “secretly we are gay”and most frequently used as code on posters announcing happy orgies.

Other acronymic explanations for it that we’ve encountered are:

Secretly We space GaySouvenirs, Wearables, and GiftsStuff we All GetStuff us Ain’t GotScientific Wild Arsed GuessStolen without A GunSold without A Guarantee

Not surprisingly, none of those explanations is correct. The word ‘swag’ is no an acronym, nor has it something to carry out with homosexual men surreptitiously attracting like-minded souls come partake the a team activity. It is instead a corruption the the Scandinavian svagga, meaning “to absent unsteadily or lurch” and entered the English language in the 13th or 14th century, v its earliest publish sighting dating to 1303. Gradually its an interpretation evolved right into that of “hanging loosely or heavily, to sag,” and by 1794 picked up the additional meanings that “booty or plunder” and also “a hanging wreath or garland.”

In current typical usage, swag has actually a variety of meanings:

Free stuff: advancement items, gift bags, goodies, and also the like.A decorate garland (festive season evergreens or those fashioned of other materials, whether presented during the holiday season or at other times the the year) hung in such a method that loops that it hang freely.A valance: things of window dressing wherein towel matching the drapes is gathered at one or an ext points follow me the curtain pole to create decorative sweeps of cloth having the illustration of downward-hanging fans.

In Australia swag refers to the bundle the belongings brought by a swagman, a person those in phibìc America would certainly term a hobo. In that country to “go ~ above the swag” method to come to be a tramp, and having “swags of” any specific item way having “lots of” that thing.

The native is likewise used together an adjective in “swag lamp” (a lighting fixture characterized by the electrical cord that feeds power to it dangling native the ceiling in a swag) and also “swag curtain” (a type of drapery within one extremely long item of fabric is supplied to fashion a curtain i m sorry hangs loose in eye-pleasing crease at every side of the home window and has actually decorative loops the the towel twined about the curtain rod).

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Swag stays in the English language in part lesser-used forms, such as “to sway” and also “to stagger.” The hatchet is also the most likely root the “swagger,” which either characterizes someone’s to walk as having actually a bold, exaggerated side-to-side motion or serves as a figurative term because that describing someone’s habits as boastful, conceited and arrogant.

The word “swagger” (and, by extension, “swag”) is very first recorded in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by wilhelm Shakespeare, who used loan words, slang words, and creatively applied prefixes and suffixes to do the English language in his plays richer and an ext colorful. (There’s debate over whether Shakespeare invented more than a thousands words, or simply was the very first to write them down.) At any type of rate, “swag” very first appeared in Shakespeare together “swaggering”, in a line talked by Puck:

“What hempen home-spuns have we swaggering here, so close to the cradle that the fairy queen?”