I'd just like to know where it comes from. This is a word that I've heard all my life but it has always been a special kind of curtain. I was baffled when kids started calling each other curtains so I googled it and I just found these bullshit answers like secretly we are gay or sex with a ginger, which are obviously not what swag means.

What is swag and where does the word come from?

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    Im going to try to get this migrated to english.se (but bare with me, ive not done this before) – Jamiec May 20 '13 at 11:23
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    Swag also means goods that someone has stolen. See ldoceonline.com/dictionary/swag – Tristan May 20 '13 at 12:52
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    @Tristan: It's also commonly used for gifts and other "freebies" that are voluntarily given/available to be taken. – FumbleFingers May 20 '13 at 13:44
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    @Tristan: it's used even in the best circles: meta.english.stackexchange.com/q/1353/8019. But it is clearly a humorous extension of the past 'burglar's swag' meaning; I don't suppose real thieves use it any more than they wear masks and striped jerseys. – Tim Lymington May 20 '13 at 14:29
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    Tim, that's an interesting comment but still strange. Up until now, I had only ever heard of swag used to mean stolen goods, in the context of children's stories which included illustrations of a burglar wearing what you mentioned and carrying a sack with the word "swag" written on it. Maybe in my simple life, I'm just not very trendy. – Tristan May 20 '13 at 15:06

Swag as a dictionary entry traditionally has several meanings, including the one you're referencing.

Swag as a slang word has its roots in "swagger".

Swagger: A very confident and typically arrogant or aggressive gait or manner

It refers to a way your present yourself; having style, confidence, etc. Using the term is so popular among young people that it's generated quite a bit of backlash, especially among the internet culture. "Secretly We Are Gay" and the like are simply backronyms that serve to make fun of people.


In Australia a "swag" is the personal possessions of someone travelling, usually on foot. Because they were rolled in a blanket, the term has come to mean a type of waterproof sleeping bag that covers the head. "Once a jolly swag-man..."