I frequently hear people talking about swag. I’ll see a Reddit post titled “Check out all this free swag company X sent me!” or I’ll hear a podcaster say, “Head to our podcast store to purchase our swag!” These statements bother me because they demonstrate that the person speaking or writing does not understand what the word ‘swag’ means.
SWAG is an acronym which stands for Stuff We All Get. I don’t know where the word originated, but I first heard it used when the company I worked for purchased a bunch of t-shirts to hand out to every employee in the company. In that case, we were truly receiving swag. It was stuff that everyone in the company got.
Nowadays, people not only refer to anything they got for free as swag, they even refer to products they purchased as swag. Clearly, if you had to purchase a product, that product is not something we all get. Only you get it because you paid for it. That’s not swag.
Further reading: What does ‘swag’ mean? [Merriam-Webster]