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I'll swing for you

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on April 29, 2009 at 20:15

In Reply to: I'll swing for you posted by Gary Martin on April 28, 2009 at 21:21:

: : During the 1960s many people would say "I'll swing for you" which I always thought meant I will kill you and suffer the consequences on the gallows, your explanation seems to give this meaning little credence but does give it as a possible explanation. Surely this can be the only explanation?

: I've only heard that phrase as meaning 'I will swing a punch at you'. It is sommonly used that way here in the UK.

I am a Londoner born and bred and I have never, ever heard "swing for" used to mean "take a punch at". ("Swing AT", yes.) I have only ever heard it used to mean "I would commit a capital crime and accept the consequences". "I would swing for him" usually means "I would kill him and be prepared to swing (i.e. be hanged) as a result". Collins's Dictionary of Slang records this meaning and dates it from the 19th century. But it can also mean "I would kill anyone for your sake and be prepared to swing as a result". (VSD)