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I remember once coming across, while browsing some bilingual dictionary, the noun "swing" pointed up as an AmE equivalent for "circuit".

But, sadly enough, what the bilingual dictionary didn't say was if this usage had any currency at all in modern day AE -- and if it was to some extent more common than the term "circuit", as well as appropriate to use for both a short round trip and an extensive circular tour.

In addition, how does a swing differ from a circuit and from a round trip?

You might want to consider the following sources for this.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swing (head to Definition 6b by the bottom of the page)

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Swing?s=t (head to BOP also)

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/circuit

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/circuit?s=t

The prince and princess, winding up a seven-day swing throughout the US... source

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    It tends to mean a short trip. Seven-day swing is a perfect example. No one would say 6-month swing. Then you'd start speaking of a tour or even a stint (extended period of time spent somewhere). Don't ask me what the cutoff is, though. Swing implies a speedy trip without much substance. – David M Mar 22 '14 at 20:56
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    the usage sounds odd to me, but maybe persons older than me or from a different part of the country may use it that way. the usage of swing that i am accustomed to is the phrasal senses swing over or swing by meaning "to make a brief or spontaneous social call" – jlovegren Mar 22 '14 at 20:57
  • @DavidM how about for scenic circular trips or tours shorter than a a day and than an hour? – Elian Mar 22 '14 at 21:10
  • @jlovegren Swing by definitely. Swing over, not as much to my ear. 7-day swing is something used nearly exclusively in tabloid headlines. Royals on 7-day swing through Canada, etc. I'm from the Northeastern United States, and I'm 38, for reference. – David M Mar 22 '14 at 21:20
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    @NourishedGourmet The problem is this ... It's not a commonly used phrase by "real people". You see this mostly in newspapers, etc. So, yes you could use it for any short trip. But, would you? Eh . . . not really. – David M Mar 22 '14 at 21:21
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To formally answer your question:

A swing (noun) is generally a short trip, never a long circuitous trip somewhere. And, the terminology is usually used in newspaper headlines. And, as such, it tends to be very informal.

Royals to make 7-day swing through Canada.

The body of the article would probably not use the term swing anywhere in it. Rather, they'd refer to it as a 7-day visit, trip, tour, etc. Swing would likely only be used in the headlines.

(This is a common theme with newspapers, who use punchier, informal, shorter terms in their headlines than they'd ever permit in their articles.)

On rare occasion, I've seen this used in advertisements for things like short cruises:

Take a 3-hour swing around New York Harbor.

This, just like the journalistic usage is an informal term for a short trip.

Compare this to the usage as a verb:

Swing by my place after work, and I'll give you the $5 I owe you.

It means, come over to my home, and it implies that you are going to stop by, but not stay for long.

I hope this answers your question.

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