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swing 1 MOVE FROM A FIXED POINT [intransitive, transitive] to make regular movements forwards and backwards or from one side to another while hanging from a particular point, or to make something do this

Let your arms swing as you walk.

a sign swinging in the wind

He was swinging his bag back and forth.

She swung her legs from side to side.

swing something by something

He marched around, swinging the gun by its handle.


I often see my child standing on the bed with his 2 hands gripping the headboard. He then "swings" from side to side (he moves his body side to side while his 2 hands are fixed to 1 point on the headboard). See the picture

enter image description here

I often think the verb "swing" is used when the feet are hung off a surface. I am not sure if we can use the verb "swing" when the feet are in contact with a surface.

Can we say "He is swinging from the headboard by his arms" to express the action in the picture?

  • It's not that swing is "wrong" for contexts like yours, but usually, we use swing for contexts where the "fulcrum" (fixed point) is at the top (a monkey swinging under a branch), and sway where the base is fixed (a drunk swaying without moving his feet). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 19 at 15:24
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica, yes, his feet are fixed at 1 point, and his hands are too. So, I think "sway" is better to express it right? – Tom Feb 19 at 16:05
  • In your exact context, it looks like your stick figure has "fixed points" at both his hands and his feet, so arguably my distinction doesn't really settle anything. At the end of the day, English doesn't actually have a "dedicated" verb for the type of motion you're describing. My guess is if you presented any version of He's xxx-ing from the headboard by his arms to a native speaker and asked them to draw a picture of the action they think it represents, their picture probably wouldn't look much like yours. You'd need to use more words to get the intended meaning across. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 19 at 17:20
  • ...maybe He's swinging / swaying / rocking from side to side with his hands on the headboard, and feet on the bed. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 19 at 17:23
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Sure you can call that swinging.

make regular movements forwards and backwards or from one side to another while hanging from a particular point.

That would seem to fit here and its certainly not the case that the object must be suspended from above. Doors can swing open, for example.

If you want to tell your child to stop swinging on the bed, normal warnings about talking to toddlers apply.

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