swab

noun
\ ˈswäb How to pronounce swab (audio) \

Definition of swab

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : mop especially : a yarn mop
b(1) : a wad of absorbent material usually wound around one end of a small stick and used especially for applying medication or for removing material from an area
(2) : a specimen taken with a swab
c : a sponge or cloth patch attached to a long handle and used to clean the bore of a firearm
2a : a useless or contemptible person
b : sailor, gob

swab

verb
swabbed; swabbing

Definition of swab (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to clean with or as if with a swab
2 : to apply medication to with a swab swabbed the wound with iodine

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of swab in a Sentence

Noun

Use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to disinfect the area. The doctor took a throat swab and sent it to the lab.

Verb

The nurse swabbed the cut with a disinfectant.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Before the plea deal was finalized, authorities used modern methods to retest evidence stored at a Richmond police locker, including various swabs from Vasquez’s autopsy, as well as her fingernail clippings and dentures. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "Contra Costa DA’s number two resigns, says handling of murder cases ‘made me sick inside’," 2 July 2019 The scammers get a cheek swab with your DNA, and a photo of your driver’s license and Medicare card. cleveland.com, "Senior scams on the rise as new cons emerge: Here’s how to protect yourself," 30 June 2019 In the film, bullet entry wounds are treated with a swab of iodine. Chuck Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "What You Need To Know Before Watching "They Shall Not Grow Old"," 28 Dec. 2018 But the technology depends on people coming forward to give a DNA sample via a cheek swab, and so far, there are not nearly as many volunteers as authorities had hoped for. Kathleen Ronayne, The Seattle Times, "‘We need hundreds’: Fire victims’ families urged to give DNA," 21 Nov. 2018 These can be run off your pap or with a separate swab of your cervix. Samantha Leal, Marie Claire, "Your Body Hates You: The Definitive Timeline for All Those Doctors' Appointments You Never Book," 2 Sep. 2015 The momentum has continued into this year, with the European Union in March voting to ban 10 single-use plastic products including cutlery, plates and cotton-swab sticks. Jennifer Maloney, WSJ, "Coke and Pepsi Want to Sell You Bottled Water Without the Bottle," 21 June 2019 Detectives are doing fingerprint lifts and DNA swabs on the car as a part of their efforts to find the robbers, Custer said Thursday morning. Christine Dempsey, courant.com, "Police on the lookout for robbers, black Acura, after gunpoint carjacking in South Windsor," 20 June 2019 But Trudeau said Canada expected to follow the example of the European Union, which voted in March to ban 10 single-use plastics that most often end up in the ocean, including plastic cutlery, plates, and cotton-swab sticks. Dan Bilefsky, BostonGlobe.com, "Canada joins global movement to ban single-use plastics," 10 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

If your plants are inside, take a Q-tip and swab the pollen inside the male flower, then rub it around the female flower. Ap Mcclatchy, The Mercury News, "How to grow your own fruits and vegetables — from food scraps," 10 July 2019 The researchers swabbed the skin of 28 residents and their rooms, fishing for living fungal cells and the strain's genetic fingerprints. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "A deadly, drug-resistant fungus has swept the globe—here’s how it spreads," 27 June 2019 Documents say investigators later swabbed part of the apartment's floor and found a positive match for Daniel's DNA. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "Former Tucson officer faces sentencing after pleading guilty to sexual misconduct," 17 June 2019 For obvious reasons, swabbing the inside of a crocodile’s cheek is not an option. Matthew Abbott, New York Times, "The Revered Crocodiles of This Island Nation Have Suddenly Started Killing People," 6 June 2019 Generally, each test recommends swabbing your dog’s cheek for between 20 seconds and a minute before replacing the collection in a test tube and mailing the sample to the lab. Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, "I Tried the Most Popular Dog DNA Tests to Find the Best One," 22 May 2019 Let this be a lesson to think twice before swabbing your ears. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "A Man Developed a Near-Fatal Infection in His Brain Lining After Using a Cotton Swab," 15 Mar. 2019 Dan remembers the brash, colorful mural the architect swabbed across two walls of the Nivola family living room. Sarah Medford, WSJ, "Daniel and Estrellita Brodsky Dreamed of a Modern Home in a Pastoral Setting," 11 Dec. 2018 Late last year, Justina Crawford decided to swab the inside of her mouth for a saliva sample to do a DNA test. Amy Dockser Marcus, WSJ, "For Some African-Americans, Genetic Testing Reopens Past Wounds," 14 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'swab.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of swab

Noun

1653, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1719, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for swab

Noun

probably from obsolete Dutch swabbe; akin to Low German swabber mop

Verb

back-formation from swabber

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about swab

Dictionary Entries near swab

svy

SW

sw

swab

swabber

swabbie

Swabia

Statistics for swab

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for swab

The first known use of swab was in 1653

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for swab

swab

noun

English Language Learners Definition of swab

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a small piece of soft material sometimes on the end of a small stick that is used for applying medicine, cleaning a wound, etc.
: a small amount of material taken with a swab as a sample from a person's body

swab

verb

English Language Learners Definition of swab (Entry 2 of 2)

: to wipe or clean (something, such as a wound) with a swab

swab

noun
\ ˈswäb How to pronounce swab (audio) \

Kids Definition of swab

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a yarn mop especially as used on a ship
2 : a wad of absorbent material usually wound around the end of a small stick and used for applying or removing material (as medicine or makeup)

swab

verb
swabbed; swabbing

Kids Definition of swab (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to clean with or as if with a mop A boy swabbed the ship's deck.
2 : to apply medication to with a wad of absorbent material A nurse swabbed the wound with iodine.

swab

noun
\ ˈswäb How to pronounce swab (audio) \

Medical Definition of swab

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a wad of absorbent material usually wound around one end of a small stick and used for applying medication or for removing material from an area
2 : a specimen taken with a swab a throat swab
swabbed; swabbing

Medical Definition of swab (Entry 2 of 2)

: to apply medication to with a swab swabbed the wound with iodine

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on swab

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with swab

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for swab

Spanish Central: Translation of swab

Nglish: Translation of swab for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of swab for Arabic Speakers

Comments on swab

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

WORD OF THE DAY

something desired as essential

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!