sway /swing

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Senior Member
Hi everybody!

Please, is there any difference between "sway" and "swing"?:

For he is an inspired man. Every inch of him is inspired--you might almost say inspired separately. He stamps with his feet, he tosses his head, he sways and swings to and fro;

Source: The jungle by Upton Sinclair- chapter 01

  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    It seems to me that to swing, you need to be hanging from somewhere, whereas you might stand on your feet and sway back and forth.


    Senior Member
    English - British
    One difference could be expressed by saying that swinging involves greater momentum than swaying.
    It is recognised that tall buildings can sway in the wind or during earthquakes, while retaining essential stability.
    We would not say that they swing.
    On the other hand, the pendulum of a longcase clock swings to and fro. We would not say that it sways.
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