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It seems like English is everywhere nowadays. It matters not where you go, speakers of all tongues are rapidly, and quite comfortably, incorporating new English buzzwords into their native languages. I remember being surprised two years ago when I heard a group of 80-year-old Spanish women say, “Venga, vamos a hacernos un selfie.” I thought I had grown immune to the delightful shock of hearing English in places where it shouldn’t be, but I once again felt that surprise just the other day when I overheard a 12-year-old boy tell his friends on the Barcelona metro that “Marc tiene un swag que flipas.”

So, yeah, it would appear that “swag” is now as common as “selfie” is across the planet. I would wager, however, that many of us would be hard-pressed to explain where it comes from, or even what it actually means. And that’s something we at Quicksilver just can’t abide by! Let’s take a look.

When Jay-Z raps, “Check out my swag yo, I walk like a ballplayer,” what he’s referring to is his stylish confidence. Such confidence is often manifested in the way one holds themselves, moves about, walks and struts (ballplayers, for example, might be considered to have swag). The term derives from the 16th century verb “to swagger,” which means “to strut in a defiant or insolent manner,” and was even often used by Shakespeare.

So now you know! Whether you plan on using the word in Spanish or English or Vietnamese, you’re now fully capacitated to describe just what real swag is.

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