Word Origins Can Be Graphic
As far as etymological explanations go, this one, you have to admit, has a lot of swag. And that's a good thing too as it turns out, since the illustration to the left is a visual rendering of the etymology of "swag." If you feel a bit woozy looking at it, that's intentional, because swaggering used to be much more closely connected in terms of semantics with "staggering." In a Language and Literature class this year, students worked on creating visual etymologies. I offered to do one as well and was assigned the word "swag." I don't know if I've fully captured the kind of strange history of the word with an equally strange landscape, but it was certainly fun to try. To my mind, the visual can help to make meaning more accessible to the reader.