‘Swag’, an intrinsically French quality

Article published on Nov. 9, 2012
Article published on Nov. 9, 2012
Since 2011 (avant-gardistes will argue 2010), the English slang expression ‘swag’, which is used to lift the term ‘cool’ a little higher, has been used in France at an alarming rate

In its adoptive French grammatical form, you can have swag (t’as du swag) or be swag (tu es swag). The famous online urban dictionary states that ‘swag is a subtle thing that many strive to gain but few actually attain’. French magazine Brain has its own theory about the etymology of the word; apparently it harks back to a twentieth century San Francisco movement, whose members would tag ‘Secretly We Are Gay’ as their graffiti bylines. Other sources pull the roots of ‘swag’ back to circa 1595, with the Shakespearian verb ‘to swagger’ appearing in A Midsummer Night's Dream. It is not arguable that taking pride in yourself (‘se la raconter’, aka ‘telling yourself’) is a French attribute; artists like La Fouine have rapped about it, and there's neverending virals going around featuring Swagg-men.

Image: © Henning Studte