Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb \ˈswer\

Simple Definition of swear

  • : to state (something) very strongly and sincerely

  • : to promise very strongly and sincerely to do or not do something

  • : to use offensive words when you speak

Full Definition of swear

swore play \ˈswȯr\ sworn play \ˈswȯrn\ swear·ing

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to utter or take solemnly (an oath)

  3. 2a :  to assert as true or promise under oath <a sworn affidavit> <swore to uphold the Constitution>b :  to assert or promise emphatically or earnestly <swore he'd study harder next time>

  4. 3a :  to put to an oath :  administer an oath tob :  to bind by an oath <swore them to secrecy>

  5. 4 obsolete :  to invoke the name of (a sacred being) in an oath

  6. 5 :  to bring into a specified state by swearing <swore his life away>

  7. intransitive verb
  8. 1 :  to take an oath

  9. 2 :  to use profane or obscene language :  curse

swear·er noun
swear by
  1. :  to place great confidence in <swears by his mechanic>

swear for
  1. :  to give assurance for :  guarantee

swear off
  1. :  to vow to abstain from :  renounce <swear off smoking>

Examples of swear

  1. He swore revenge on the killers.

  2. I swear to God, I'll kill him if he comes back.

  3. Don't swear in front of the children.

  4. I do solemnly swear to tell the whole truth.

Origin of swear

Middle English sweren, from Old English swerian; akin to Old High German swerien to swear and perhaps to Old Church Slavic svarŭ quarrel

First Known Use: before 12th century




Definition of swear

Examples of swear

  1. I heard him say a swear.

  2. <can't you express your frustration without using swears?>

14th Century

First Known Use of swear

14th century

SWEAR Defined for Kids


verb \ˈswer\

Definition of swear

swore \ˈswȯr\sworn \ˈswȯrn\swear·ing

  1. 1 :  to use bad or vulgar language :  curse

  2. 2 :  to make a statement or promise with sincerity or under oath :  vow <I swear to tell the truth.>

  3. 3 :  to give an oath to <The witness was sworn.>

  4. 4 :  to bind by an oath <He swore them to secrecy.>

  5. 5 :  to be or feel certain <I swear I saw it a minute ago.>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up swear? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 6, 2016

an official order, decree, or edict

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

kittly-benders pince-nez spindrift duvet
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.