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English is not my first language. I googled and googled, but this was one thing I was not able to find. Can someone give me a definition of this?

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  • Interresting. My searches shows that the expression clearly has been used, but there is no explanation for it. Perhaps it's a misheard expression.
    – Guffa
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 7:12
  • More info. and context: I saw it on a website where a guy was describing himself as employed by the government as a 'swivel servant'. I wonder if it was just a case of miss-spelling 'civil servant'.
    – 7wp
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 0:24

3 Answers 3

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It's probably a play on words - swivel and civil sound similar in pronunciation. It can either be a form of mockery or wordplay (for example, in this song) almost as if it's taboo to say 'civil servant', or it could simply be a misheard expression, as Guffa said.

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    Nice find for the song! Note that at 1:10 he sings "If wrk should appear, swivel your chair and plug your ears", so for him at least a "swivel servant" is a government employee (civil servant) who spends all their time spinning on a swivel chair.
    – psmears
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 8:44
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I had not heard this term before today, but my first thought was of a lazy-susan style device. After some searching, it seems I could be right, however the word swivel has been adopted as the name of a company which sells servers (not servants) hence swivel server. Swivel Servant might be a simple (incorrect) variation of Swivel server.

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"swivel servant" - play on the expression "civil servant"

A person who pretends to work while lounging in his or hers taxpayer-provided swivel chair !!
Possible origin - CBC Radio - "Canadian Air Farce"- program

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