From Middle English swithen (to burn, scorch, singe), from Old Norse sviðna (to be burned).


swidden (plural swiddens)

  1. an area of land that has been cleared by cutting the vegetation and burning it; slash and burn
    • 2009 Jul/Aug, Roger Atwood, “Maya Roots”, Archaeology, volume 62, number 4: 
      These facts reinforced the view that the Maya drew their basic sustenance from corn, most of it grown on slash-and-burn plots known as swiddens.
    • 2007 Fall, F. L. (Rick) Bein, “Food Garden Capacity and Population Growth: A Case in Papua New Guinea.”, Focus on Geography, volume 50, number 2, page 28-33: 
      Kamiali Village is a community of swidden horticulturists and fishers lying 80 kilometers in a south-southeasterly direction along the coast from the City of Lae, Papua New Guinea.


swidden (third-person singular simple present swiddens, present participle swiddening, simple past and past participle swiddened)

  1. to clear an area of land by cutting and burning
    • 2009 February 13, Drake Bennett quoting James Scott, “The mystery of Zomia”, The Boston Globe, Boston:
      The reason, Scott says, is that swiddening provides a freedom that fixed agriculture does not.

Derived termsEdit

  • swiddener


See alsoEdit


Diamond, Jared (2004). Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, page 163. ISBN 0670033375.

Last modified on 13 December 2013, at 20:26