Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
1

swell

play
verb \ˈswel\

Simple Definition of swell

  • : to become larger than normal

  • : to make (something, such as a river) larger or more full than normal

  • : to increase in size or number

Full Definition of swell

swelledswelled or swol·len play \ˈswō-lən\ swell·ing

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1a :  to expand (as in size, volume, or numbers) gradually beyond a normal or original limit <the population swelled>b :  to become distended or puffed up <her ankle is badly swollen>c :  to form a bulge or rounded elevation

  3. 2a :  to become filled with pride and arroganceb :  to behave or speak in a pompous, blustering, or self-important mannerc :  to play the swell

  4. 3 :  to become distended with emotion

  5. transitive verb
  6. 1 :  to affect with a powerful or expansive emotion

  7. 2 :  to increase the size, number, or intensity of <swell the applicant pool>

Examples of swell

  1. Her broken ankle swelled badly.

  2. Heavy rains swelled the river.

  3. The population has swelled in recent years.

  4. The economy is swelling at an annual rate of five percent.

  5. Immigrants have swelled the population.



Origin of swell

Middle English, from Old English swellan; akin to Old High German swellan to swell


First Known Use: before 12th century

Synonym Discussion of swell

expand, amplify, swell, distend, inflate, dilate mean to increase in size or volume. expand may apply regardless of the manner of increase (as growth, unfolding, addition of parts) <a business that expands every year>. amplify implies the extension or enlargement of something inadequate <amplify the statement with details>. swell implies gradual expansion beyond a thing's original or normal limits <the bureaucracy swelled to unmanageable proportions>. distend implies outward extension caused by pressure from within <a distended abdomen>. inflate implies expanding by introduction of air or something insubstantial and suggests a vulnerability to sudden collapse <an inflated ego>. dilate applies especially to expansion of circumference <dilated pupils>.

Rhymes with swell


2

swell

noun

Simple Definition of swell

  • : an upward and downward movement of the water in the sea

  • : the curved or rounded shape of something

  • : an increase in size or number

Full Definition of swell

  1. 1 :  a long often massive and crestless wave or succession of waves often continuing beyond or after its cause (as a gale)

  2. 2a :  the condition of being protuberantb :  a rounded elevation

  3. 3a :  the act or process of swellingb (1) :  a gradual increase and decrease of the loudness of a musical sound; also :  a sign indicating a swell (2) :  a device used in an organ for governing loudness

  4. 4a archaic :  an impressive, pompous, or fashionable air or displayb :  a person dressed in the height of fashionc :  a person of high social position or outstanding competence

Examples of swell

  1. The storm has brought high winds and heavy swells along the coast.

  2. the swell of a pregnant woman's belly

  3. a swell in the population

  4. the swell of the music



1606

First Known Use of swell

1606


3

swell

adjective

Simple Definition of swell

  • : very good

Full Definition of swell

  1. 1a :  stylishb :  socially prominent

  2. 2 :  excellent —used as a generalized term of enthusiasm

Examples of swell

  1. That was a swell party.

  2. <what a swell time we had at the country club dance>



1785

First Known Use of swell

1785


Medical Dictionary

swell

play
intransitive verb \ˈswel\

Medical Definition of swell

swelledswelled or swol·len \ˈswō-lən\play swell·ing

  1. :  to become distended or puffed up <her ankle swelled>






Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

February 7, 2016

a slight offense

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

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

spindrift pince-nez kittly-benders duvet
Name That Thing

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ