swab

noun
\ˈswäb \

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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The hair, paired with a swab taken from the reluctant Mr. Gershwin’s mouth, was sent to a lab in Boston. David Margolick, New York Times, "Alan Gershwin, Who Claimed a Famous Father, Is Dead at 91," 6 Mar. 2018 To expedite reunifications, HHS is conducting DNA tests via cheek swabs to match children with their parents, said Jonathan White, assistant secretary for preparedness and response. Silvia Foster-frau, San Antonio Express-News, "Reunification deadline of immigrant families looms large for U.S. government," 5 July 2018 Each dropping gets whisked up on a cotton swab, put into a small vial of preservative and stored in a cooler. Washington Post, "Bird flu hot spot: Scientists track virus in huge migration," 28 June 2018 Use a clean cotton swab to scoop formulas out of a jar. Carly Cardellino, Cosmopolitan, "15 Acne-Causing Behaviors You Didn’t Even Know You Were Doing," 10 Jan. 2017 So the agency will be conducting DNA tests by taking a cheek swab of every child before matching him or her with a parent. Julia Ainsley /, NBC News, "U.S. has nearly 3,000 separated migrant kids, will use DNA to find parents," 5 July 2018 The test is performed on swabs of the nose and throat that are submitted to an outside laboratory. Saryn Chorney, PEOPLE.com, "As Dog Flu Spreads from Brooklyn into Manhattan, N.Y.C. Veterinarians Issue Urgent Warnings to Pet Parents," 29 May 2018 Caitlin Cossaboom, of the Epidemic Intelligence Service class of 2017, collects a nasal swab of a Cape buffalo during an anthrax outbreak investigation in Namibia. Betsy Mckay, WSJ, "The Weirdest Job Fair Pitch: ‘Ask Me About Brain-Eating Amebas’," 16 May 2018 Then, draw a kohl liner like the Rimmel Kohl Kajal Waterproof Eye Liner along the waterlines of your upper and lower lids before smudging it out with your ring finger or a cotton swab. Devon Abelman, Allure, "9 Amazing Beauty Moments Looks from EXO-CBX's "Blooming Day" Music Video," 10 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In trying to meet the first deadline, the government began with a list of 102 children potentially eligible to be reunited and whittled that to 75 through screening that included DNA testing done by swabbing the inside of the cheek. Washington Post, "Reunited immigrant children scooped up into parents’ arms," 10 July 2018 In the private screening room with a female TSA officer and a supervisory officer, one of the women swabbed Pellegrino’s shirt for explosives residue and left to test it. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, "Court: TSA officers immune from most checkpoint lawsuits," 11 July 2018 In trying to meet the first deadline, the government began with a list of 102 children potentially eligible to be reunited and whittled that to 75 through screening that included DNA testing done by swabbing the inside of the cheek. Washington Post, "Reunited immigrant children scooped up into parents’ arms," 10 July 2018 Prosecutors could have charged Huffman five years ago, if police had properly swabbed him for DNA during his 2012 arrest in an assault, or in 2015 when he was arrested with a gun. Rachel Dissell, cleveland.com, "'Fallen through the cracks:' Overdue DNA swabs link to murders, sexual assaults," 13 May 2018 In trying to meet the first deadline, the government began with a list of 102 children potentially eligible to be reunited and whittled that to 75 through screening that included DNA testing done by swabbing the inside of the cheek. Elliot Spagat And Mike Householder, chicagotribune.com, "Government falls short of deadline to reunite kids, parents separated at the border," 11 July 2018 In trying to meet the first deadline, the government began with a list of 102 children potentially eligible to be reunited and whittled that to 75 through screening that included DNA testing done by swabbing the inside of the cheek. Time, "Government Falls Short of Deadline to Reunite Separated Migrant Kids and Their Parents," 11 July 2018 Azar said parents and children are being swabbed for DNA to match paternity and checks are being done as rapidly as possible to make the court deadline. CBS News, "With thousands of children still separated, deadline to reunite immigrants quickly approaching," 6 July 2018 Investigators swabbed the handle of D’Angelo’s driver-side door and sent it for testing. Tj Ortenzi, Washington Post, "Hunt for Golden State Killer led detectives to Hobby Lobby for DNA sample," 2 June 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.

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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

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Learn More about swab

Dictionary Entries near swab

svy

SW

sw

swab

swabber

swabbie

Swabia

Statistics for swab

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for swab

The first known use of swab was in 1653

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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 \

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 \

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

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Comments on swab

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