spin [intransitive, transitive] to turn round and round quickly; to make something do this

(+ adv./prep.) The plane was spinning out of control.

a spinning ice skater

My head is spinning (= I feel as if my head is going round and I can't balance).

spin round/around The dancers spun round and round.

spin something (round/around) to spin a ball/coin/wheel

We placed our bets and the croupier spun the roulette wheel.

swing [intransitive, transitive] to move backwards or forwards or from side to side while hanging from a fixed point; to make something do this

His arms swung as he walked.

As he pushed her, she swung higher and higher (= while sitting on a swing).

swing from something A set of keys swung from her belt.

swing something He sat on the stool, swinging his legs.

Some women in developing countries often "spin or swing their hair around" after washing it to dry it off as shown in the picture.

enter image description here

I am not sure if we say "she is spinning or swinging her hair around".

Also, I am not sure if people say "swing something around" because the "swing" movement doesn't go around but randomly back and forward or side to side.

  • 1
    She appears to be TWISTING her hair into a plait or PLAITING her hair (rather than spinning or swinging it) merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plait Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 10:37
  • @RonaldSole, I know, but after that she spin or swing it. I could have found a better picture
    – Tom
    Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 11:24
  • She might swing her hair from side to side (as women frequently do in TV adverts to publicise a hair product). The word SPINNING doesn't work at all. It applies to the process of wrapping products such as raw wool into a thread. Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 11:39
  • @RonaldSole, great, but can I use the verb "swing" with the adverb "around"? For example, She is swinging her hair around?
    – Tom
    Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 11:46
  • Yes, that's fine. Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 11:48

1 Answer 1


You can potentially say either "spin" or "swing", but they do not mean the same thing:

"spinning around" generally means moving something quickly in a circle around a central point. It implies a certain amount of force or vigor, and usually also implies that the thing being spun is being forced outwards into a circular path. For example, the clothes in a washing machine on the "spin" cycle are spun around the center so that they are pushed up against the sides to press out excess water.

"swinging around" generally means that something is hanging more or less downwards by the force of gravity, but that, while it is hanging, it is also being moved horizontally. This horizontal movement can be vigorous too, but not generally enough to keep it in a horizontal circle. Note that you can also say something is "swinging around a central point" meaning that it is moving in a circle while hanging mostly downwards, but you can also just say something is "swinging around" which doesn't imply any kind of fixed center or circular motion, it just means it's doing more than just swinging from side to side in some way (it may be swinging around erratically, etc).

So regarding hair, if you were to say:

She is swinging her hair around

I would expect that her hair is hanging down, but it's also moving around horizontally. She may be making it go in a circular motion, or she may just be making it go "all over the place". It's not clear from just that statement.

On the other hand:

She is swinging her hair around her head

would suggest to me that her hair is still hanging downwards to some degree, but she is making it go around and around her head. This does also rather have the feeling to me that she's probably standing up and making it go around her whole body (in addition to her head), not bending over, though.


She is spinning her hair around her head

This says to me that she is actually moving so quickly that her hair is actually going straight out, horizontal to the ground, in a circle around her.

If I understand your question right, and assuming you're talking about moving all of one's hair around as a whole (not twisting it around itself), while bending over and it's hanging down, then probably the phrase you want is "swinging her hair around".

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