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A swivel is a connection that allows the connected object, such as a gun or chair, to rotate horizontally or vertically. A common design for a swivel is a cylindrical rod that can turn freely within a support structure. The rod is usually prevented from slipping out by a nut, washer or thickening of the rod. The device can be attached to the ends of the rod or the center. Another common design is a sphere that is able to rotate within a support structure. The device is attached to the sphere. A third design is a hollow cylindrical rod that has a rod that is slightly smaller than its inside diameter inside of it. They are prevented from coming apart by flanges. The device may be attached to either end.
A swivel joint for a pipe is often a threaded connection in between which at least one of the pipes is curved, often at an angle of 45 or 90 degrees. The connection is tightened enough to be water- or air-tight and then tightened further so that it is in the correct position.
The dictionary definition of swivel at Wiktionary