Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A link, pivot, or other fastening so designed that it permits the free turning of attached parts.
  • n. A pivoted support that allows an attached object, such as a chair or gun, to turn in a horizontal plane.
  • n. A gun that turns on a pivot.
  • transitive v. To turn or rotate on or as if on a swivel.
  • transitive v. To secure, fit, or support with a swivel.
  • intransitive v. To turn on or as if on a swivel.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. : A piece, as a ring or hook, attached to another piece by a pin, in such a manner as to permit rotation about the pin as an axis.
  • n. A small piece of ordnance, turning on a point or swivel; called also swivel gun.
  • n. strength of mind or character that enables one to overcome adversity; confidence; will
  • v. To swing or turn, as on a pin or pivot.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A piece, as a ring or hook, attached to another piece by a pin, in such a manner as to permit rotation about the pin as an axis.
  • n. A small piece of ordnance, turning on a point or swivel; -- called also swivel gun.
  • intransitive v. To swing or turn, as on a pin or pivot.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To turn on or as on a staple, pin, or pivot.
  • To turn (anything) on or as on a swivel of any kind.
  • n. A fastening so contrived as to allow the thing fastened to turn freely round on its axis; a piece fixed to a similar piece, or to any body, by a pin or otherwise, so as to revolve or turn freely in any direction; a twisting link in a chain, consisting of a ring or hook ending in a headed pin which turns in a link of the chain so as to prevent kinking. See also cut under rowlock.
  • n. A gun mounted on a swivel or pivot: commonly, but not always, limited to very small and light guns so mounted.
  • n. A rest on the gunwale of a boat for supporting a piece of ordnance or other article that requires swinging in a horizontal plane.
  • n. A small gun on the deck of a fishing-schooner, used in foggy weather to signal to the dories the position of the vessel.
  • n. A diminutive shuttle used in the figure-weaving of silk, etc., and moved to and fro by slides or by hand.
  • n. A small shuttle for use in a swivel-loom for weaving ribbons.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. turn on a pivot
  • n. a coupling (as in a chain) that has one end that turns on a headed pin

Etymologies

Middle English swyvel.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English swyvel, swivel, from a derivative of Old English swīfan "to revolve", + -el, an instrumental suffix (Wiktionary)

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