swing the lead

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swing the lead

To feign illness to avoid work. Gerald's boss accused him of swinging the lead, but felt awful when he saw that Gerald was very sick.
See also: lead, swing

swing the lead

malinger; shirk your duty. British informal
This phrase originated in the armed forces and the lead in question is probably a sounding lead, a lump of lead attached to a line and slowly lowered to determine the depth of a stretch of water. The connection between this process and shirking one's duty is not entirely clear.
See also: lead, swing

ˌswing the ˈlead

(old-fashioned, British English, informal) (usually used in the progressive tenses) pretend to be ill/sick when you are not, especially to avoid work: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her — she’s just swinging the lead.The lead (pronounced /led/ ) may refer to a weight at the bottom of a line that sailors used to measure how deep the water was. Swinging the lead was possibly considered an easy job, and so came to mean avoiding hard work.
See also: lead, swing
References in periodicals archive ?
Apparently, in the Black Country, there is a saying that anyone swinging the lead and drawing dole or benefits to which they are not entitled is taking advantage of The Treacle Stick.
PERCY POTTS, Marton * * * * * * I RECENTLY read in The Mirror newspaper that the MoD is spying on our injured troops to see if they are swinging the lead.
This is because when one seaman was swinging the lead, the rest were reefing sails to manoeuvre the vessel and the hard work was being done aloft.
I have been off work for six months with this dreadful illness but I am aware that many of my colleagues think I am swinging the lead.
Differentiating between employees genuinely suffering from illness and stress and those more accustomed to swinging the lead is clearly key to making progress on this issue.
George Graham would be my choice as new boss as he doesn't tolerate players swinging the lead.
Any organisation worth its salt should keep a close eye on the absentee levels and have policies in place to make sure that workers are not swinging the lead.
If you believed ISME almost everyone in the country's swinging the lead - the figure would be nearer 17 than 83 per cent.
Is he swinging the lead and just having a lazy few days around Bute House?
If a man can have six months away from his workplace he either doesn't have a job in his company or he has been swinging the lead in the first place.
That's sickened a million punters, and a certain Retief Goosen who suggested that Tiger had been swinging the lead at Torrey Pines better than he was swinging the club.
The company might be better off spending the half million quid allocated to this project on sorting out who is genuinely sick and who is swinging the lead.