Word on the Street

Swag (swag) noun. A very high degree of belief in one’s own abilities; extreme self-confidence.

Usage example:Gilbert Arenas really let his swag hang out when he dropped a 32-foot, buzzer-beating, game-winning bomb on the Milwaukee Bucks last night.

Word history: Swag is a shortened version of the word “swagger,” with a slightly modified meaning. It was seemingly coined by Gilbert Arenas about Gilbert Arenas. After downing the Bucks at the buzzer with an improbable shot from area code range, Arenas said, “My swag was phenomenal.” Said teammate Antawn Jamison, “We call it swag. Gil has a great amount of swag out there.” But was is swag, exactly? You can’t call it confidence, because it’s more like a sublime and otherworldly self-assurance. It isn’t overconfidence, because Arenas really has been walking the walk lately (just ask Kobe about the 60 Gilbertchucked” on him, or ask the Suns about the 54 that ended their 15-game win streak, etc.). It isn’t arrogance either, because Arenas hasn’t been rubbing it in or degrading his opponents. In the end, having swag is just being really freaking good at what you do, knowing it, and enjoying the hell out of it.


That, my friends, is pure swag.


Update: We received a comment from an anonymous reader that said:

“Good definition, but definitely *not* coined by Gilbert. The word has been around for years – it’s a hip hop word that is slow to be discovered by the usually overwhelmingly non-hip hop blogosphere. See, for example, Jay-Z‘s (even then, mainstream rap) song Dec. 4 (released 2003). In fact, ‘swag’ is just short for ‘swagger,’ which the OED defines as “the action of swaggering; external conduct or personal behaviour marked by an air of superiority or defiant or insolent disregard of others.” Sounds like Gilbert.”

Wow. Now I totally feel like an out-of-touch, uninformed cracker. I thought “swag” was probably some sort of hip hop slang, but I was too lazy to do any research. I just checked online dictonary’s, where one (of the many) definition of swag is “To move over an area of surface with C.A.S (confidence, appearance, and style) by taking steps with the feet at a pace slower than a run.” That’s the closest match they had, and it kind of describes what Arenas does after he hits a big shot. I also checked several online rap and hip hop dictionaries, but none of them had any entries for swag. If only we could get a definition from Gilbert himself…


Labels: Gilbert Arenas / Antawn Jamison / Kobe BryantMilwaukee Bucks / Word on the Street


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