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[sweyl] /sweɪl/
noun, Chiefly Northeastern U.S.
a low place in a tract of land, usually moister and often having ranker vegetation than the adjacent higher land.
a valleylike intersection of two slopes in a piece of land.
Origin of swale
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English; originally a cool, shady spot, perhaps < Old Norse svalr cool, or svalir a covered porch Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for swale
  • swales with undermined swale blocks will be reshaped and the swale blocks reconstructed as needed following annual inspections.
  • The pavement edge along the swale can experience more cracking and structural failure, increasing maintenance costs.
  • swale sections are particularly appropriate where curbs are used to prevent water from eroding fill slopes.
  • It is unclear how the diversion swale berm and the letdown channel cross the perimeter swale at the base on the letdown channel.
  • The swale no longer exists because the drain line construction filled it up.
  • These activities included access road construction, tree clearing and drainage swale retention structure installation.
British Dictionary definitions for swale


(mainly US)
  1. a moist depression in a tract of land, usually with rank vegetation
  2. (as modifier): swell and swale topography
Word Origin
C16: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse svala to chill
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for swale

"low, hollow place, often boggy," 1580s, special use of Scottish swaill "low, hollow place," or dialectal East Anglian swale "shady place" (mid-15c.); both probably from Old Norse svalr "cool," from Proto-Germanic *swalaz.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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