Swimming

April 3, 2009

by Kellie Porter

white-tiger-swimming

Swimmingly:

“Given that most of our planet’s surface is covered with water, it’s not surprising that “swim” itself is a very old word. The Old English “swimman,” meaning ‘to move on or in water, to float,” was derived from a Germanic root that also produced the words for “swim” in several other European languages.

Since movement through water is generally smooth (unless one is thrashing about in panic), especially compared to the “clomp clomp clomp” of walking on land, “swim” has acquired a wide variety of figurative uses, many involving a sense of gliding or moving smoothly as if suspended in liquid (”She … swam across the floor as though she scorned the drudgery of walking,” 1888).
This use of “swim” to mean “glide smoothly with little apparent effort” gave us the adverb “swimmingly” in the early 17th century meaning “with smooth, uninterrupted progress; easily; with complete success” (”The interview went off very swimmingly,” 1824).
Source: The Word Detective
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2 Responses to “Swimming”

  1. Thom Chatterton Says:

    Great. Now that picture gives me yet another thing to fear in the ocean.

  2. urbesque Says:

    does that mean you’re opposed to “swimming” across a tiled floor? i wonder if you could use the floor as a friendly metaphor….
    -caroline


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