English edit

Etymology edit

Alteration of swarty, from swart +‎ -y, from Old English sweart (black).

Pronunciation edit

  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈswɔɹði/
  • (file)

Adjective edit

swarthy (comparative swarthier, superlative swarthiest)

  1. Tawny, dusky, dark.
  2. Dark-skinned; Black.
    • 1712, Joseph Addison, Cato: A tragedy, published 1750, page 44:
      Their swarthy Hosts wou'd darken all our Plains, / Doubling the native Horror of the War, / And making Death more grim.
  3. Darker-skinned than white, but lighter-skinned than tawny; tan.
    • 1751, Benjamin Franklin, Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind:
      the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People
    • 1961 November 10, Joseph Heller, “The Eternal City”, in Catch-22 [], New York, N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, →OCLC, page 425:
      Yossarian went along in Milo Minderbinder's speeding M & M staff car to police headquarters to meet a swarthy, untidy police commissioner with a narrow black mustache and unbuttoned tunic who was fiddling with a stout woman with warts and two chins when they entered his office and who greeted Milo with warm surprise and bowed and scraped in obscene servility as though Milo were some elegant marquis.
    • 2016, Luther the Reformer: The Story of the Man and His Career, Second Edition, page 11:
      Such was the religion that a young, swarthy man of medium height took with him as he trudged off to the University of Erfurt in May 1501.
  4. A dark grey color.
  5. (nonstandard) Evil, malicious.
  6. (nonstandard) Weathered, rough.
    • 2003, Peter Ocko, “Curious George” (28:10 from the start), in Dead Like Me, season 1, episode 3, Vancouver: MGM, via Showtime:
      Mason: "Okay, how do I look, really?"
      Betty: "…'Swarthy.'"
      Mason: "Well, is that good?"
      Betty: "Depends if you like 'swarthy.'"
      Mason: "Do you like 'swarthy'?"
      Betty: "Not particularly."

Synonyms edit

Translations edit

Noun edit

swarthy (plural swarthies)

  1. A swarthy person.
    • 1900, The Whole Prose Romances of François-Marie Arouet de Voltaire[1], page 70:
      Finally I saw all our Italian women and my mother, torn in pieces, cut up, massacred by the monsters who contended for them ; the captives, my companions, the Moors who had taken us, the soldiers, the sailors, the blacks, the whites, the swarthies, the mulattoes, and lastly, my captain himself, were all slain
    • 1962, The Skipper[2], volume 22, page 21:
      Then one of the swarthies popped a couple of shovels of coal into the small fo'c's'le stove — for it was cold that July night Down Under — and everyone began to talk.
    • 1980, The secret of Sam Marlow: The Further Adventures of the Man with Bogart's Face[3], page 12:
      Hobby Lobby made a slight motion with his left hand and the swarthies froze in the desert.
    • 1997, The Chariton Review, Volume 23, Issue 1[4], page 71:
      The swarthies just stood waiting for whatever was in the air. I wanted to get up and walk away. But I didn't even budge.
    • 2010, Sympathy for the Devil, page 366
      Real controversial stuff, sure, but you know what, he was actually in the dead center of polite opinion when it came to the Negroes and the swarthies and money-grubbing kikes and all those other lovely stereotypes.
    • 2014, Dead Men Don't Eat Lunch, page 52
      The swarthies didn't bother to threaten us this time; instead, they mocked us with catcalls and whistles, as we squeezed past them in abject humiliation.
    • 2015, Everything is Happening: Journey into a Painting, page 24
      A school friend of mine, Gavin, one of the swarthies, organised one May afternoon a tea party at his parents' house in Cheyne Walk.