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 motion filed Friday by Christopher Watts' attorney, James Merson, also asked that DNA swabs be taken from the girls' necks. Bradford Betz, Fox News, "Colorado girls' bodies were submerged in crude oil 4 days," 18 Aug. 2018 But Kevin Brown's shyness or awkwardness cannot explain his DNA on that swab. CBS News, "Were the murders of California teens the work of a serial killer?," 9 June 2018 Taking saliva swabs to extract families’ DNA is one of the most valuable services offered to attendees for free, said Dr. Sharon Derrick, who started the annual event Deana Hebert provided her saliva sample. Olivia P. Tallet, Houston Chronicle, "Families grapple with how to find missing relatives," 22 Apr. 2018 Fingerprints are on file, too, along with DNA swabs of the interiors and exteriors of the 2018 Ram 1500 trucks stolen May 3 in a predawn heist at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Why did Ram truck thief leave Bible behind?," 14 May 2018 Other players in the field, including Profile by Sanford and Nutrigenomix Inc., use a cheek swab or saliva test. Caitlin Ostroff, WSJ, "Your DNA, Your Diet: How Nutrition Is Being Personalized," 30 Aug. 2018 Gerstein recommends using a cotton swab or a small buffing brush and dabbing a bit of the moisturizer onto the dry areas to smooth out the makeup. Emily Rekstis, SELF, "8 Ways to Make Your Foundation Look Natural, Not Cakey," 20 Aug. 2018 The test uses the same cervical swab as your pap smear. Samantha Leal, Marie Claire, "Your Body Hates You: The Definitive Timeline for All Those Doctors' Appointments You Never Book," 2 Sep. 2015 Use two cotton swabs to gently apply pressure downward on each side of the pimple. Amina Lake Abdelrahman, Good Housekeeping, "QUIZ: How Normal Are Your Skincare Habits?," 10 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 And in July, under a 2013 state law that allows DNA sampling of inmates, Nevada authorities swabbed the inside of Ewing's cheek and entered the results in the national database. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Nevada inmate linked to 1984 hammer killing cold cases in Colorado," 12 Aug. 2018 Beards sometimes as dirty as toilets A handful of brave men allowed Action 7 News to swab their beards, and the results showed some beards are as dirty as toilets. Marlisse Cepeda, Woman's Day, "Lab Tests Discover That Beards Are Dirtier Than Toilets," 4 May 2015 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

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

8 Feb 2019

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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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

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