from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To move with a hissing or whistling sound.
  • intransitive verb To rustle, as silk.
  • intransitive verb To cause to move with a swishing sound.
  • intransitive verb To swirl or agitate (a liquid) in a glass or in the mouth with a swishing sound.
  • intransitive verb To whip with a rod.
  • noun A sharp whistling or rustling sound.
  • noun A movement making such a sound.
  • noun Basketball A shot that goes through the net of the basket without hitting the backboard or rim.
  • noun A rod used for flogging.
  • noun Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a gay man.
  • adjective Chiefly British Fashionable; posh.
  • adjective Offensive Slang Effeminate.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In a swishing manner, or with a swishing sound; with a swish.
  • To flog; lash.
  • To flourish; brandish; make quick, cutting motions with; switch.
  • To affect by swishing: as, to swish off the heads of flowers with a cane.
  • To move, or make a movement, with a swash or flourish, or with a sound like the washing of small waves on the shore, or of swift movement through the air, of which the word swish is imitative.
  • noun A sound as of water lapping the shore, or of swift movement through the air; a rustling.
  • noun A swish-broom.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun colloq. A sound of quick movement, as of something whirled through the air.
  • noun (Naut.), engraving Light driven spray.
  • intransitive verb To dash; to swash.
  • transitive verb To flourish, so as to make the sound swish.
  • transitive verb Slang To flog; to lash.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective UK, colloquial sophisticated; fashionable; smooth.
  • adjective effeminate.
  • noun A short rustling, hissing or whistling sound, often made by friction.
  • noun A sound of liquid flowing inside a container.
  • noun A movement of an animal's tail
  • noun A twig or bundle of twigs, used for administering beatings; a switch
  • noun basketball A successful basketball shot that does not touch the rim or backboard.
  • noun An effeminate male homosexual.
  • verb To make a rustling sound while moving.
  • verb basketball To make a shot, as a perfect swish.

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

  • verb move with or cause to move with a whistling or hissing sound
  • noun a brushing or rustling sound
  • adjective elegant and fashionable


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



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  • He saw nothing; but heard lively breathing, and a _swish, swish, swish_; next, a weak, mewlike cry.

    The Rich Little Poor Boy Eleanor Gates 1913

  • He heard the repeated and rapid _swish, swish, swish_, of wavelets driven against the float, which rose and fell gently beneath his feet.

    The Adventures of Bobby Orde Stewart Edward White 1909

  • He had three assists, including a sweet one from underneath that resulted in a 3-point swish from a wide-open Chauncey Billups. 2008

  • Jackson opened the third quarter with a swish from the top of the key to tie the game. 2008

  • And there was a windy sound, a thin swish followed by a crisp and hollow contact.

    A Record Book for Small Farmers 2005

  • And there was a windy sound, a thin swish followed by a crisp and hollow contact.

    A Record Book for Small Farmers 2005

  • Taping the rim the guards should be able to shoot the ball blind folded … hearing the sound of the swish is a beautiful thing.

    Denver Post: News: Breaking: Local निब्बान 2010

  • Until I get the knack of sewing, I'm using camouflage as my ally. :pIronically, one of my first projects was a Regency gown no "swish" there in cream silk!

    Vague Questions, Answered Vaguely - A Dress A Day 2008

  • The moment is powerful and pungent, and it carries with it the sight and sound and feel of possibilities both real and imagined; the "swish" of ball hitting net for the first time as a clapping, bounding five-year-old dreams of becoming the next Michael Jordan; the red haze of a sunset bleeding into the greens of a forest on an aspiring artist's debut canvas ...

    In the Matter of George W. Bush v. the Constitution 2008

  • And when these things kind of swish into the south, it kind of forces them down, kind of putting a lid on it and naturally they don't want to do that.

    CNN Transcript Sep 9, 2008 2008


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  • "It was July. In the large, dull house they were imprisoned by the swish and gurgle and all the hundred sounds of rain."

    – John Collier, the opening of "Wet Saturday", Fancies and Goodnights

    January 27, 2008

  • Nothing but net!

    October 10, 2008

  • The fashion version of "Ooo swish!" - spotted in a 1930 film reel.
    staunch etymologists may want to double check the date of the audio on that film.

    March 2, 2015