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verb swin·dle \ˈswin-dəl\

Simple Definition of swindle

  • : to take money or property from (someone) by using lies or tricks

Full Definition of swindle

swin·dledswin·dling play \ˈswin(d)-liŋ, ˈswin-dəl-iŋ\

  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  to obtain money or property by fraud or deceit

  3. transitive verb
  4. :  to take money or property from by fraud or deceit

swin·dler play \ˈswin(d)-lər, ˈswin-dəl-ər\ noun

Examples of swindle

  1. <hundreds of people were swindled out of their savings, and all they had to show for it were fake land deeds>

Origin of swindle

back-formation from swindler, from German Schwindler giddy person, from schwindeln to be dizzy, from Old High German swintilōn, frequentative of swintan to diminish, vanish; akin to Old English swindan to vanish

First Known Use: circa 1782

Synonym Discussion of swindle

cheat, cozen, defraud, swindle mean to get something by dishonesty or deception. cheat suggests using trickery that escapes observation <cheated me out of a dollar>. cozen implies artful persuading or flattering to attain a thing or a purpose <always able to cozen her grandfather out of a few dollars>. defraud stresses depriving one of his or her rights and usually connotes deliberate perversion of the truth <defrauded of her inheritance by an unscrupulous lawyer>. swindle implies large-scale cheating by misrepresentation or abuse of confidence <swindled of their savings by con artists>.

Rhymes with swindle



noun swin·dle

Definition of swindle

  1. :  an act or instance of swindling :  fraud

Examples of swindle

  1. <a swindle that involved selling a lot of land that really didn't exist>

  2. <identity theft has become one of the most frequent and feared swindles of our time>


First Known Use of swindle


SWINDLER Defined for Kids


noun swin·dler \ˈswind-lər\

Definition of swindler

  1. :  a person who swindles

History for swindler

It's hard to imagine that someone whose head is whirling could be convincing enough to swindle you. However, the original meaning of the German noun Schwindler—the source of our word swindler—was “giddy person.” In the same way that giddy has been extended in English to describe someone who is frivolous or foolish, Schwindler was extended to persons given to flights of fancy. The Germans applied the word as well to a fantastic schemer, then to a participant in shaky business deals, and finally to a cheat.

Seen and Heard

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


February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

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