Origins:While many common terms have entered the English language as acronyms. only rarely did that phenomenon occur prior to the mid-twentieth century. Yet that fact stops few from reaching for acronymic explanations for a variety of far older words, especially in instances where the true etymologies aren't crystal clear.
Swag is one such misunderstood word. Some of the acronymic explanations for it that we've encountered are:
- Secretly We Are Gay
- Stuff We All Get
- Stuff We Ain't Got
- Scientific Wild Arsed Guess
- Sold Without A Guarantee
Not surprisingly, none of those explanations is correct. The word 'swag' is not an acronym, nor has it anything to do with homosexual men surreptitiously attracting like-minded souls to partake of a group activity. It is instead a corruption of the Scandinavian "svagga", meaning "to rock unsteadily or lurch" and entered the English language in the 13th or 14th century, with its earliest print sighting dating to 1303. Over time its meaning evolved into that of "hanging loosely or heavily, to sag," and by 1794 picked up the additional meanings of "booty or plunder" and "a hanging wreath or garland."
In current common usage, swag has a number of meanings:
- Illegally obtained goods.
- Free stuff
- A decorative garland hung in such a way that loops of it hang freely.
Man: Look at that dude's clothes, he has Swag.
Man: Let's see what swag you have from robbing that house.