You never really hear of interest rates 'going up', they're always 'hiked'.. and government cuts are rarely 'deep' or 'severe',. they're 'swingeing'. Is there a word/term for either this use of language, or the role these words play as an auxiliary to the other? I'm not talking about the hyperbolic nature of the words, just that they're almost always connected

(Swingeing doesn't seem to really exist other than to describe cuts!)

edit: For the down-voters, I'm in Britain, perhaps these examples are local ones. I guess 'Spangling' is the only way stars are applied to a flag, but I haven't thought about US examples for long!

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    Probably jargon Mar 18, 2022 at 11:35
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    Swingeing doesn't really exist in US English. We wouldn't know how to pronounce it if we saw it in writing, and if someone said it we'd just think it was another British slang for fucking or drinking.
    – jlawler
    Mar 18, 2022 at 13:45
  • Oh, and the technical term is metaphor. Hiking a rate doesn't involve hiking boots, after all, and I don't know what might be involved for swingeing a cut, especially when a sharp object was not involved in the cut.
    – jlawler
    Mar 18, 2022 at 14:06
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    “You never really hear of interest rates 'going up'” – Do you not? I’m very far from being a banker or stock broker or anything to do with the financial world in general, but interest rates going up or down would be the most common way I hear or see it referred to. Hiking interest rates and, especially, swingeing cuts are far less common in my experience. But both are cases of more or less fixed expressions / collocations. You could almost call swinge a cranberry verb, even. Mar 18, 2022 at 17:48
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    @JanusBahsJacquet That sounds like a good answer!
    – Draconis
    Mar 21, 2022 at 21:00

1 Answer 1


It seems to me that the phenomenon described here is probably collocation.

Collocation is the co-occurence of multiple words/lexemes more frequently than would be expected by random chance, but not frequently enough to be considered a phraseme ≈ idiom. In language learning contexts, this is sometimes called a chunk (or so I am told).

Of course, if the association is frequent enough, we might want to indeed talk of a phraseme/idiom.

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