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Swaffelen (or zwaffelen) is a Dutch term meaning to hit one's penis—often repeatedly—against an object or another person's body. Swaffelen was named as the word of the year in the Netherlands and Belgium in 2008.

The act of swaffelen often takes place in the form of teasing, crude humour or a degrading context, but can also be a sexual act. When the act is practised on a person, it is often the person's cheek that is hit. The penis is usually flaccid or semi-erect during the act.[citation needed]


The term "swaffelen" is believed to have originated in English-speaking areas.[1] It is believed to originate from Dutch words meaning swing, sway and swoop, as well as the German words for tail or penis (Schweif and Schwanz).[1][2]

Media coverage[edit]

In April 2008, the term received wide media attention in the Netherlands and Belgium,[3] when a Dutch student committed the act on the Taj Mahal and uploaded the video to YouTube. The student was suspended for this action.[4]

In response, the BNN TV program Spuiten en Slikken invited viewers to make their own videos of other objects being swaffeled. They also called for a BNN Nationale Swaffeldag (BNN National Swaffel Day) to be declared.[5] The Royal Palace of Amsterdam and the Basilica of Saint Servatius in Maastricht were among the objects swaffeled in the submissions.

Swaffelen received further attention when Australian folk singer Iain Campbell Smith aka Fred Smith, on his return to Australia from Afghanistan[when?] released an album entitled "Dust of Uruzgan", consisting of songs responding to the war in Afghanistan, especially his comedic song Niet Swaffelen op de Dixi about Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan.[citation needed]

In 2015 a firefighter in Enkhuizen was fired for swaffeling a colleague.[6]

When the topic of swearing in various languages arose, in episode 4, series N, of the British panel show QI, one of the show's panelists, Jeremy Clarkson, mentioned the word,[7] defining it as meaning, specifically, "...to bang your penis against The Taj Mahal."

It was featured in episode 5 of the Amazon Video show The Grand Tour.

Word of the year[edit]

Swaffelen was voted as the word of the year in a 2008 competition organized by Genootschap Onze Taal (Society for Our Language), Van Dale Uitgevers (Van Dale Publishers) and the newspaper De Pers.[1][2][8] The blog GeenStijl.nl encouraged readers to vote for "swaffelen".[9] "Swaffelen" received 57% of the votes while "wiiën" (meaning to play Wii) drew 12% and "bankendomino" (referring to the credit crisis) received 6% of the votes. "Gastroseksueel" and "smirten" each received 5% of the vote.[10]

See also[edit]